'THE NEW NEIGHBOR

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Chapter 1

"Mom, do you know anything about who's moving in next door?" Denise called out, as she gazed out her bedroom window. "There's a moving van backed up to the front door over there!" "Oh, are they here now? Mary was telling me last week at the beauty shop that Janet Forbes' cousin from California and his family are buying that place. Rivers, I think was the name. I didn't realize they'd be moving in so soon, though," Doris replied thoughtfully, drying her hands on a kitchen towel. "Do you see anyone over there?" she called out from the kitchen. "Come on in here, Mom. There's a real good view from my window," Denise responded, mischieviously. Hidden by the pink ruffled curtains, together, they peeked eagerly at the house next door, but, to their disappointment, only two men in white coveralls were visible. Denise and her mom watched as the men unloaded a refrigerator from the van, and with expertise, maneuvered it into the house. "You know, that house has been vacant a long time now. It'll be nice to have new neighbors," Doris commented. "I heard Dad say once that the owners of that house were 'asking a fortune' for it. But, it really is a nice house, huh." Denise mentally compared the large brick house, sprawled in ranch fashion to the newly remodeled white frame house she had grown up in. "You're right," Doris replied. "But, I've got to get back to work. You know how busy Saturdays always are around here! In fact, you've got quite a bit to do yourself, by the looks of this room!" Doris hinted strongly, glancing around the room as she exited. Easing down to sit on the side of her bed where she could continue her vigil, Denise wondered about her new neighbors. Perhaps it would be an older couple. That would be nice, she thought, if they weren't too nosey. Nosey neighbors were the pits!

"Oh, no," she thought. "What if they've got a bunch of little kids! No way could she handle that! Just having Todd, her little brother, underfoot all the time was bad enough. Denise groaned under her breath. She began to notice that the wind appeared hardly blowing at all today, the sun was shining bright. How unusual for this 'almost West Texas' country, Denise mused. It seemed so unusually warm for a late February day. Perhaps spring would come early this year! Then, something caught her eye. Her curiosity peaked, as she saw a new black sports car pull into the driveway next door, and she watched, amazed, as out sprang a young, delightfully masculine form! She took in the well-built torso, long muscular legs, and his olive colored skin, which was emphasized by the white tank top and walking shorts he was wearing. She could see his fine features distantly and noted his dark curly hair. Surely this wasn't her new neighbor, she thought, as she drew a deep breath excitedly. Denise's imagination began to run wild. It sure would be cool to live next door to that! Another car then pulled into the drive, and out climbed a man and a young-looking woman, who turned and assisted a small child out of the car. What a darling little girl, Denise thought, as the woman took the small girl's hand and the three began walking toward the moving van. As the strangers disappeared into the house next door, Denise heard her mother calling for help in the kitchen. Time to get lunch ready, Denise guessed. With the interruption of her train of thought, she arose reluctantly to the call of duty. "They're here, Mom. Why do you think anyone would move all the way from California to a small town like this? I can't imagine that!" "Well, Mary said they were hoping the small town atmosphere would help settle down their teen-age son. She said something about him getting in with a pretty rough crowd out there. And, too, they have a lot of relatives in the area, I think." "About the son, Mom, do you know if he's still in school? I got a pretty good look at him and he's a real hunk! I'm impressed! Denise smiled,

mischieviously. "Now, you better watch out, girl! He's a bit older than you, and I'd guess by the sound of it, he's been around quite a bit! I don't want you getting involved with someone like that! But, yes, I believe she did say he's in his last year of high school. Sounds to me like they waited a bit late to try to change his direction! And I don't want to have to worry about trying to change your direction, Young Lady! You just be nice to him and stay out of his way," warned Doris. But there was something in Denise's eyes that said the warning had come too late. The following Monday, Denise looked for her new neighbor in all her classes at school. She had only seen him darting in and out of the house and car over the weekend. Sure enough, to her glad surprise, she was seated in her fifth period Algebra class just before the bell, when looking up,she caught his eye as he entered the room. He sat near the back of the room, across from where Denise sat, and frequently, she glanced back in his direction. She had no difficulty getting his attention. She caught him watching her several times. When their eyes met, she could feel an electric current passing between them. She could hardly keep her mind on the lesson! As the bell rang, Denise picked up her things and started for the door, her heart beating rapidly in excitement. Determined to get to know her new neighbor as soon as possible, (well, Mom said to be nice to him, she reasoned), she managed to bump right into him at the doorway. Boldly, she smiled, saying, "Excuse me. I didn't mean to run over you! But, I think you're my new neighbor! I live in the white house trimmed in blue just south of you. I'm Denise Whitaker." "Well, hello, Denise. I'm Jonathan Rivers. Just call me Jon, everybody else does," he said, staring boldly at Denise. "I thought I'd seen you somewhere. Right next door, huh. Well, that'll be real handy!" He smiled with interest, as they stepped aside to let other students into the room for the next class. "Hey, since we're neighbors, can I take you home after school? Maybe we can make a few drags, get to know each other and you can introduce me to everybody. How 'bout it?" Denise hesitated. She knew immediately Mom was not going to like

interrupting the open flirtation as she said. of course!). which brought out the sky blue color in her oval eyes. Oh. Denise darted down the hall to the locker. to meet Jon. notes kept appearing on her desk from other girls. I'd love that! Why don't we meet at the side door after the last bell. excited! Her conscience kept trying to challenge her. she wouldn't listen. not now. She had been so nervous earlier when she introduced herself. sweetly. couldn't listen. English II. Reluctantly. That's better.this! But. all volleying for Jon's attention. applied another layer of mascara to her already long. anyway. thick lashes. Denise turned and hurried to her next class. She would walk home afterward. OK?" "Sure thing. Denise decided. Babe!" Jon agree. Rounding the last corner to the side door. it was the perfect chance! She could be his first friend! Besides. but Mom would never understand just how important this was! She decided to call home and ask to go to Angela's house after school to study. putting away her makeup. surrounded by several classmates (mostly girls. She sprayed on her favorite sweet-smelling cologne and went. She was in Heaven! But. but. Smiling confidently. she hadn't even noticed. what was she gonna do about Mom? Denise had never deliberately deceived her folks before. She added a small amount of blush. They did that pretty often. and straightening her pink sweater over her jeans. It was too late to change her mind. wanting to know about the new guy in school. she saw him. he was so handsome! . What was done was done! It would be such fun and her parents would never have to know! She put her books on the floor and hurriedly brushed through her long. she'd love to ride in that dream-car! "Thanks. and freshened her lipstick. strawberry blonde curls. Jon?" She noticed his beautiful. "Ready. she told her mom. she walked right up. man. high on her cheeks. chocolate brown eyes as he held the door open for her. It was all set! At the last bell of the day. She simply had to look her best for Jon! She stood in front of the mirror. spreading it evenly. reassured. and it seemed to be a simple solution. Throughout the class. as he hurried off toward the lockers. grabbed the books she needed and headed for the restroom to check her makeup and hair.

huh?" "Not hardly. which was beginning to be packed out with high school kids. show me the way!" Jon replied. Denise laughed. called out. seemingly unaware of all the other students in the parking area. Denise's best friend. so excited just to be riding in this awesome car and to be sitting here beside Jon. No. as she and Denise exchanged glances. they looked impressed!" Denise responded proudly. They all ordered soft drinks and Jon was introduced to Mark and . Doll. They went inside and sat with Nancy and Mark in a booth. you know? You can judge a girl by the type of cologne she wears. "Hey. do you look this good all the time? And you're not tied up? I mean. They pulled up at the local Snack-Shack.Jon led her out to his car in the student parking lot." She smiled. "I love your cologne. Jon opened the passenger car door. as he started the motor. Mark and Namcy led out. Did you know that?" "You've got to be kidding!" Denise said. Someone had just picked some songs on the jukebox and it was playing loudly. laughing. going steady or anything?" "Thanks. "How about it." "Sure. so we can get to know your friend. Jon following closely behind. as Denise. "Just the 'welcoming committee' checking out the new kid in town! I've seen it a dozen times. "Denise. at the moment I'm free as a bird. reveled in her good fortune. "So you already have a fan club. until Nancy. Jon" Do you want to go there? That's where almost everybody goes after school. haven't you?" "Well. are you going to the 'hangout'?" Mark and I are! Why don't you meet us there. as the car began slowing for the turn. It just fits you." Denise waved her arms in comical demonstration." Jon replied confidently.

Immediately. it's OK. And wouldn't if she had a chance to go with Jon. he always managed to keep it clean and polished to a brilliant shine. "Man. slipping his arm around her possessively. too. "How did you get a car like that?" Mark asked. she. I think it was a bribe. won't you?" "Might as well. But. but hadn't made a commitment. almost apologetically. Jon was introduced to all the kids in the crowd." Denise noted a sadness creeping into his voice. And I guess it worked. You're going. looking into . Denise thought of Mark's '93 Ford Ranger and remembered how proud he was the day he got it. Denise noted. somewhat awe struck. Since it's getting close to summer. even though he was laughing it off. aren't you.. "Sure. Jon. He had no trouble making friends. that's always a lot of fun. if I had it. "There's always somebody giving a party or a school sponsored project. Denise." Jon laughed. of course. was fascinated with Jon's sports car." Jon smiled. there'll be lots of banquets and the Spring Fling is coming up pretty soon. "Well. as they came near the booth. Do you go out of town for fun or what?" "Oh." Mark spoke up in defense of his home town. the guys began discussing cars. yet." he added. She'd already been asked. It was easy to see that Mark was envious of Jon's new sports model.Nancy. Her heart went out to Mark. if you'll go with me. Denise looked at Jon. And though he worked after school and weekends to pay for it. not that I actually had much choice about the move. Maybe he'd ask her to go with him... I'm going! It'll be fun! You'll want to go too. but then. well. It's to raise money for the School Band. Denise? Nancy and I are going. He was sure to be popular at this school! "So what do you guys do for fun around here?" Jon asked." Mark smiled down at Nancy. actually. "Dad seemed to think it would help me feel better about moving here. there's always a lot to do around here. "I cane from California and there are a lot of neat places to go and things to do out there. what I'd give.

It was hard to believe she had just met him! On the ride home." Nancy called out. I really had fun with you. but. I've got a lot of homework to do and my mom will be expecting me soon.She might even call Angela's house! "Jon. even if it was a drag!" Denise's eyes lit up. Denise. "I'll bet we could have a good time. "Sure. as Jon slid his arm around her shoulder possessively. "Well. "I need some help with that English assignment." Denise hesitated. leaned over and kissed Denise sweetly. "I had fun."my mom is real funny about things like this. answered. Jon! I'll see what I can do about Saturday night. I'll go with you.so I told her I'd be studying with Angela and would walk home. too. OK?" "OK. Denise. He gave her a questioning look. "Sure thing. rising to his feet. as a new color of pink crept slowly into her cheeks." Jon smiled.when I've just me you. her eyes begging him to understand. Her heart began to pound. Me. you know . smiling. I hate to break this up. I know how folks can be!" He pulled over to a vacant lot near the street they lived on. catching her off guard. I'll let you know. she reluctantly asked Jon to let her out about a block from home. I don't think she would understand about me being out with you . too. Do you want to do something Saturday night? Or can you work it with your mom?" Denise. Denise. for a great time. but she answered casually. "Thanks. sure." Denise said. she didn't try to resist. put his car in park. "Yeah." Denise was conscious of the time passing and knew her mom would be getting anxious if she didn't get home pretty soon. But. See you guys tomorrow.her eyes.OK?" . "I'll call you later. still out of breath from the excitement of the unexpected kiss. I guess I need to get home." Jon said. you see.

she could handle it! She'd had a lot of boyfriends. (which her mother frowned upon) and she had let a stranger. she walked into the house and laid her books on the coffee table. Denise thought. It was only a short walk home. even if he was a smooth operator. she had never actually dated. were always around. it was only a brief kiss. guilty about the deception and happy with the thought of being with Jon. There wasn't anything wrong with that. She had lied to her mother. then. and Denise managed to spend the night with Nancy. So Nancy's mother thought nothing of it when Mark and Jon came to pick up the girls. banquets and such. gone to the 'hangout'. Was she falling in love? She had never felt this way before. she never had a boyfriend older than her." Denise called out. and he seemed pretty experienced with girls. so secure. And the parents. just escorted to parties. just a 'Thank you' kiss. but it was but it was enough time for Denise to do a lot of heavy thinking. he doesn't waste time! She couldn't believe all that had happened in just one afternoon. one or both. was there? Well. kiss her. as he drove away. He made her feel so special.She got out of the car with one last look at his beautiful. he was a stranger this morning). Of course. . (well. Denise reasoned to herself. "I'll see you tomorrow. Also. who was already allowed to date." Jon said. I'm home. But. and until now. "Mom. dreamy eyes. Sweet Deception Chapter 2 Saturday came. she was only a sophomore. especially about someone she had just met! With a divided heart. Her mom would have a fit! Even if she hadn't already warned her about him! What was she going to do now? What about Saturday night? She really wanted to be with him. Man.

Denise discovered. nevertheless. but a little embarrassing. But. It was usually a drag to Denise. Jon wouldn't take 'no' for an answer and she really wanted to be close to him anyway! He slid his arm around her shoulder and she felt so warm and dreamy. his arm around her. to Denise's surprise and Mark had accepted without hesitation. once. Denise's dad. And she was a good person! Better than some that went all the time. Nancy's mom didn't go to Church and never insisted that Nancy go. but she supposed he must have a good allowance. too! He didn't have a job. as if they knew why they chose to leave at just that moment. in the back seat. when it looked like a really crude scene might be coming. Jon insisted that Denise sit close to him. as he kept cracking jokes and being silly. Jon insisted they go to a nice restaurant as he was buying! So he was a big spender. but it was just one of those things. What would Nancy and Mark think. Doris and Tom. Denise reasoned. no one acted suspicious. Some of the love scenes were a little too much! Denise and Nancy excused themselves to the restroom. had always insisted on regular attendance. Denise thought. She wasn't used to staying up so late at night.Denise had been sort 'on edge' all week. They planned to catch a movie and eat out. Nancy and Denise promised to be at Church. Jon and Mark laughed at them. in exchange for 'sleep-over' privileges. The movie was good. too. it being her first date with Jon? But. And he smelled so good! He was funny. She wasn't sure just what she should do. But. After the movie. And sitting so close to Jon in the darkness of the car. but she didn't think her family had noticed. as she leaned toward him and laid her head on his chest. that was just part of it for her! At she would get to be with Jon! And he was just so sweet! And so exciting! And so handsome! The foursome drove in Jon's car to a larger town nearby. His folks looked like they could afford it! It had been a really fun night and Denise was 'dreamy-eyed' on the way home. Denise realized. Everything had worked out fine. Denise gave in to the warmth of the moment. It was going to be such fun! Jon asked mark to drive. At least. relaxing completely as she listened to the . and early enough for Sunday School.

Mark got out of the car. Nancy and I will be going to Church this morning. she concluded. The porch light was on. it's been fun. Nancy explained to Denise. "OK." "Oh. sleepily. it was time. I'll plan on seeing you in the backyard. forever! Eventually. Denise reflected. and loved him. it didn't get boring. "Mom and Dad usually rest on Sunday afternoons. "When can I see you again?" Jon asked anxiously. Mark was awfully . And Mark and Jon seemed to get along so well. Denise hurried to the house as Jon drove off. then reluctantly began to climb out of the car and assisting Denise. soft beat of his heart."Babe. either. "I guess it's morning already. kissing Denise softly." he laughed softly. As if they were meant to be together. I love being with you." Denise said. as Mark returned to the car. passenger side. Jon kissed her again. went around to the passenger side and assisted Nancy out. huh. too. That way. "How about if I call you in the morning? Well. But then I'll be going back home. as he held her closer and whispered in her ear. She looked around and saw that Nancy and Mark were already parting at the front door. he began to walk with Nancy to the door of her house." Jon replied softly. I don't want to leave you. I've had a good time.regular. and they don't worry much about what I'm doing." she suggested hopefully. They talked and talked and talked! Denise thought she had never been so happy! Nancy and Mark had been 'going steady' for about two months and everything seemed to be going well for them. this time. Almost instant friends. then again. We promised my mom. She was busy planning all the things they could do together as a foursome. You're so sweet. she longed after Jon. then. she discovered. Maybe we can meet in the backyard after lunch. Looking back. Jon leaned down. Nancy encouraged Denise's relationship with Jon. the car pulled up in front of Nancy's house. She didn't want to leave the warm circle of his arms. Nancy and Denise didn't get much sleep that night." Denise explained. But. With a glance at the couple in the back seat." "I know. It seemed as if she had always known him. This was absolutely Heaven.

she read: "Love not the world. Denise had decided it made sense and after all. Participating in Church. Dad's business was good and he had many friends. as if it really happened just as it was written. There had to be another way! And. she confided. the lust of the flesh and the pride of life is not of the . chapter 2 today. you have to be respected. and seemed very knowledgeable. He was a young guy.sweet and usually a lot of fun. But. Thompson instructed. Roger Thompson was the youth teacher. but she had been young. Only fanatics do that. as Mr. Things always did. but people went to Church in order to be respected and admired. you just can't take the Bible literally. They take things way too far. things got a little dull. neither the things that are in the world. But. well. Denise had believed it literally. yet. community affairs and school functions built trust. her dad explained. Denise and Nancy arrived at Church just as Sunday School was starting. good-looking in an off-hand way. too. the love of the Father is not in him. admired and trusted. they had explained to her. Denise knew that the stories in the Bible were just illustrations of good and bad moral behavior and attitudes! At one time. At Denise's turn. she couldn't imagine her mom and dad approving her plans. They took turns reading two verses each. Denise thought. Denise thought. sometimes. And it was good for Dad's business. The only dark cloud hanging over Denise was the fact that she had to hide her joy from her family and sneak around to be with Jon. Thompson is a fanatic. I guess Mr. For all that is in the world. it would all work out somehow. If any man love the world. but. And it was a real shame. Mom had already judged Jon on the basis of rumor and found him lacking! Oh. Their lesson was I John. And Mom and Dad had explained to her that it was very good to be kind and loving and good. Dad had said. In the Insurance business. he was strange! He acted as if he really believed what he was teaching out of the Bible.

Then her thoughts drifted back to Jon.Father. the preaching was making Denise sleepy and she and Nancy had to take turns pinching each other to stay awake. but was beyond her understanding. if this stuff was true and if there really was a God. Mr. How could you love the world. When they arrived at home. Denise wondered if there really was a God. she decided." It doesn't even make sense. she guessed He wouldn't understand about her lying to her parents. she told herself. Doris always planned ahead. especially the special songs that were sung solo or by a group. After all the verses in the chapter had been read aloud. trying to understand what it could mean. deep inside. . Well. Thompson began to teach on those things. but how can you believe something like that? It sounded like science-fiction to her. The Church service was rather boring to Denise. She had been taught well by her mother and was intent on passing it on to her daughter. Denise wanted very much to believe there was a loving God that knew all about her. Could there really be someone 'up there' who really loved her? Then why did Mom and Dad believe it? But. after the singing was over. Denise began setting the table for lunch and assisting her mom in getting the food on the table. They were more modern and entertaining! But. then they would almost start giggling. right there in Church! But they made through the service and they left the Church with Denise's folks and dropped Nancy off at her house as Denise eagerly anticipated the afternoon rendezvous with Jon. but is of the world. Denise thought. being separated from God because of the sin nature. None of this seemed to mean anything to Denise. she concluded. He talked about sin. It didn't really mean anything anyway. She wanted to believe. anyway? Oh well. the Lord's returning and not being ashamed of Him at His coming. Denise enjoyed the singing. why worry about it. being 'born again'. Just like some of the poetry that everybody seemed to love. loved her anyway and could help her be good. Maybe it was better if there wasn't a God.

cap and glove. Mom loved to read. She would have to work on that! ******* Jon peeked out his bedroom window through which he could view the . and glanced anxiously to the River's house for a sign of Jon. She quickly surveyed herself in the mirror before going out to meet Jon. She could hardly wait for that handsome hunk to come out! She couldn't believe her luck. hurried to her room. Tom with the newspaper and reading glasses and Doris with her new novel. he headed out the door. Todd. Denise reflected. sending a sweet fragrance into the air. now that she knew he was a really super guy! A girl could just tell about things like that. reluctantly helped her with the dishes. He wanted to go to a friend's house on the next block for a game of baseball with the guys. the trees were blooming too early and would probably be killed by the late frost. The sooner Mom and Dad realized it. the better. Denise scrubbed the sink and put up the dishcloth dutifully and. Denise had heard her dad say that there probably wouldn't be much fruit this year. if she ever had. after glancing out the side door to Jon's back yard. But. again. but Mom had insisted that he help Denise with the dishes. it was a beautiful day! Denise chose a sunny spot away from the trees. It was such a beautiful spring-like day! The sun was shining bright and warm. except when she saw there were more exciting things to do. The grass was already greening up from the recent rains and the fruit trees in the backyard were covered with blossoms. first! Doris and Tom retired to the bedroom to rest.After lunch. She adjusted the volume to avoid disturbing her resting parents. tuned in her favorite radio station on the portable stereo. such as meet with Jon this afternoon! When the dishes were finally done and Todd had gathered his baseball. but near the chainlink fence which separated the two yards and began opening out a webbed lounge chair and reclining. and there was hardly any wind blowing. Denise's younger brother. getting all his attention like this! No longer did she regard her mother's warning about him. Denise enjoyed reading too.

Of course. He had moved into a new neighborhood. She had told him he could pass for twenty-one and he had. But.D. here he was. So what. his parents would have a fit about that. he had lucked out in getting to move next door to her! He hadn't wanted to move away from his friends in California. which would be soon after graduation. but. She took him to parties and clubs in San Diego. he felt like twenty-five after hanging around with Carolyn's crowd. Let her think what she wanted! Jon sauntered out the back door.Whitaker's backyard as well as his own. Denise was an interesting diversion. much more than just seventeen. since he had no choice in the matter. if he drank with the others. she had gotten for him. Carolyn suggested that she could probably get him a job with her company after his eighteenth birthday. five years older than Jon. he'd have to get a job too. of course. near where they lived and introduced him to her friends. he may as well make the best of it! The worst part of it all was having to leave Carolyn behind. and having to make all new friends. starting a new school in the middle of his senior year. He would just keep Carolyn and his plans to himself until the time came and if Denise got her feelings hurt. Carolyn was a model. line and sinker! Well. And she was so much fun and made him feel so mature. among relatives he had never known. Well. at his family's insistance. Gosh. His mom and dad didn't like him seeing her at all and Jon suspected that probably was the reason for the drastic move. he'd be back. smiling. with the fake I. Yes. Jon had promised Carolyn that as soon as he graduated and was on his own. She was making good money as a model. This company was strict about your age. Pretty street-smart! he thought proudly. but so what? They got along just great. in a small town. the way he figured it!). well! He wasn't going to make any promises to her anyway. "Hi! Been out here long?" .(which wouldn't be long. hook. He'd learned an awful lot. And he could tell she was falling for him. and got a little crazy? They had talked about getting a place together when Jon finished school. he could enjoy the time he had to be here. Carolyn was always coming up with something exciting to do. Well. but. oh. there she was. several times. while he was here.

it was a good day! I picked up some new clients. "But. Kitten?" Tom asked. Dad. Mom had to run to the grocery store and will pick Todd up from Cub Scouts on her way back.Breakthrough! Chapter3 Walking home from school the next day. She remembered how anxious she had been to have everything just perfect. hot cup of coffee. Denise concluded. mixed with a little suspicion. looking her dad in the eyes. had provided well for his family. Denise noted the pleased look on his face. try-outs were the least of her worries! Denise assured Tom that everything was all set for the try-outs." Denise hesitated. it wasn't a bad day at all. since he was a softie! Denise smiled. And surely. they had never lacked for anything that they needed or wanted very badly. Did you have a bad day? Are you tired? Here. Can't you get Mother to get you a new outfit. "Hi. being an insurance salesman. "No. But. huh? I hear that cheerleader try-outs are coming up soon. Dad. Denise met him at the door with a fresh. So you just relax a while. (and one of the best Denise thought). I've got some other things on my mind. what's all this about. "Tell me what has brought on all this extra attention for your old dad? What's going on with you. So they had formed a plan of action. OK?" "Well. but that's life. first. if they got to know him. they would like him. But it was tiring and this coffee sure hits the spot!" Tom. While thy certainly weren't rich. Dad. sit down and put your feet up. very . She knew how to handle Dad! So when Tom arrived home from work. and I really do need to talk to you. nowadays? We haven't had much time to talk lately. Denise reasoned out the approach to use with her family to convince them that Jon was a nice guy. reminding Denise of the preparations of the previous year for the tryouts. or what?" Dad laughed. In fact. now. And nice enough to spend time with their daughter! She and Jon had discussed it yesterday and she really felt that she could not just keep on lying to be with him. She would talk to them tonight. He wasn't around much.

And nearly all my friends are dating already." "Oh. You'll like him. That night. It was a way of life around here! Well. But he's not at all like you think he is. Dad?" By this time. since Denise was evidently so interested in him. Dad. Kitten and we can meet the young man. Since Dad had already given permission to invite Jon over. Dad! I'll be sixteen before long. if that will make you happy. Don't I know him? What about that Freddie 'What's-his-name'? I thought you were 'going steady with him. so he often 'passed the buck'. either." She was trying so hard to sound mature and Dad was quietly laughing at her. he lives next door. I just know you would. Denise. if he's anything like I heard he was. at the supper table. Would you just let me ask him over so you can meet him? Please. Mom. Denise was sitting on the arm of Tom's chair and pouring on the charm! "I don't see any harm in him coming over here. And the only thing is. Doris reluctantly agreed that it probably would be good to meet the young man. I just know you will!" "Well. I know you think you're just about grown. Denise told herself. but he stalled. go ahead and invite him over so we can meet him and we'll judge for ourselves. "But. what's this guy's name? Tell us a little about him first! How much older is he? Does he live here in town?" "Actually. he's a little older than me. that was a long time ago! He was so immature! This guy. too. But. Denise mentioned the subject to Mom. there was still work to do. "Actually. I think you'll need to discuss anything further with your mother. so far. if you met him! And he likes me. saying. His name is Jonathon Rivers. I warned you to stay away from him. Let's see what she has to say about it!" Denise knew he hated disappointing his family. but you evidently didn't listen too well. but it's still our responsibility to look out for you. Mom. "Tell me about this friend of yours. you will just have to find another . yet. But. "I'm serious. Don't you think I'm old enough to date now?" Denise's big blue eyes were begging Tom to say yes. well. But you'd really like him. Maybe I was wrong. it's about a new guy that I'm really interested in.seriously. you don't know him. so good! But. But.

or I'll shut you up!" Denise threatened irately. Inviting him in. anyway! Soon. again. Denise happily concluded that everyone seemed to be having a good time and there was no sign . and after showing what he could do with it. she explained to Jon that Dad was running late. handed it to Jon. Todd brought the guitar into the room. the following afternoon.boyfriend! Is that clear?" Doris expounded with conviction. she thought as she left the table. He knew what parents wanted for their little girls. calm and collected. relieved to have gotten this far with her parents. She was so excited when she finally go a chance to tell Jon. lest their eyes should betray their relationship. cool. Denise had been anxiously giving Todd last minute orders regarding his behavior and comments. apparently deciding it was his turn for some attention and began teasing Denise about her new boyfriend! "Shut up. as for Todd. Denise attended to the introductions. Todd interrupted the discussion. as she went to open the door. Denise sat across the room from Jon and Todd. they had planned to make them like and trust him. As soon as she entered the room. Tom arrived for the special meeting and again. Jon was very gracious and sat on the sofa. Their plan. With a little prodding. the doorbell rang. too. And. What a pain. she called to her mother. Denise reflected. Jon was casually pleasant to her. but conversed mostly with the rest of the family. at least Step 1. Denise noted. They surely weren't true. especially knowing how thy felt about his being older than her. Jon had charmed the entire family into singing along as he played old songs that everybody knew. Jon buddied right up to him. Before long. next to Todd. had worked! The rest was up to Jon! So. Jon looked just as handsome as always. immediately after Denise and Todd arrived home from school.Todd. and together. but should be here soon. Denise introduced Jon to Doris and Todd. Denise arranged for Jon to come over after school the following afternoon. Looking at the clock over the fireplace. Jon learned that Todd was taking guitar lessons and mentioned that he played also. He seemed quite comfortable with meeting her family. he had told Denise. But she hadn't had the heart to tell him about the rumors Mom had heard about him. avoiding eye contact with him.

Can you handle that?" "Oh. He asked if he might be allowed to come over and visit Denise. Besides. they laughed at Jon's jokes. Doris invited Jon to stay for supper. he had not asked to take her out. although they were reluctant to admit it! After a few visits. Tom recruited Jon when he needed a man's help. Mom. Can I?" "You know. thank you! You're the greatest! I can't wait to tell Jon!" . Jon certainly knew how to put everyone at ease. I don't think it would hurt anything for you to go out with him to special functions. He acted so mature for his age. soon. Just to visit with her right there in her home. especially devouring the luscious meal that Doris and Vickie had prepared together. thanking her. as well as neighbors. Tthey soon all became good friends. As the time drew near for the Spring Fling. Jon was a big hit that evening with the whole family. she decided." Doris replied teasingly. "Mom. and his little sister.of problems for the future. and wise. saying he understood their reluctance and knew they wanted to do what was best for Denise. He agreed with them that Denise was young yet. drawn together by the interest of their children in each other. so considerate. but he declined. Jon asked me to go to the Spring Fling with him next Saturday night. Her family surely couldn't keep from liking him after today! But. Her parents surely couldn't refuse his request. Amanda to the Whitakers. and Vickie. "Your father and I discussed this just the other night and since Jon has proved to be so different from what I thought. Jon was treated just like a member of the family. it was time to stop the fun and get supper on the table. Denise confronted her mom as they were driving home from a shopping trip. Denise thought proudly. Tom and Doris began to take an interest in him. his mother. The two families all celebrated together when Denise was again chosen for cheerleader for the coming school year and all seemed to have a good time. Jon had introduced his family. teased him unmercifully about his good looks. I knew this was coming. his dad. but you'll have to be home early. invited him to meals frequently and involved him in plans for the family. James. somehow.

it wasn't Jon. and that Todd was to spend the night with Tim. she could see Jon without sneaking around. nowadays. so 'in love' that she could hardly deny Jon anything he asked! At last. Do you want me to have her ca11 you?" Denise asked. without risking upsetting the relationship between her parents and Jon by pushing for dating privileges. and found a note from Mom saying she had a dentist appointment. she should be back pretty soon. it seemed. she would be home soon. She knew her family was totally unaware that their beloved daughter was so involved. at least she could be alone with him without lying about it! And as the school functions increased toward the end of the school year. And Denise became even more deeply involved with her 'knight in shining armor' as the time went on. The phone rang. her world was soon to change! CRISIS Chapter 4 Denise had just arrived home from school. turned on the television. walked down to the corner of the next block as she and Jon had planned. but. and with much excitement. Denise went to the refrigerator. And the times she had spent the night with Nancy so she could go out with Jon. though. so did the dates. since it was Friday night. Mom se1dom had anything to do with . after everyone was sleeping. where he picked her up and took her to a very secluded spot overlooking the small town. (or was it fear?). in her voice. She was sure it was Jon. But. They spent nearly as much time on the phone as they did together. she asked to speak to Doris. poured a glass of milk. Her world revolved around Jon. and sat back to relax with her snack. "Mom's gone out of town for a dentist appointment. grabbed a banana. It was Tom's secretary. But. this time anyway! The curfew was early.Denise's enthusiasm covered well the fact that lately she had left the house several times. fee1ing curious.

almost hysterical. because she's out of town. you know that! Why is he in the hospital? Was there an accident?" Denise asked. Don't worry. or something minor. listen to me. What could be wrong with Dad? He had never been sick. there was no accident. . Now. she probably was afraid she couldn't handle it. "Jon. the secretary finally explained her call. so she would know what was going on. and I can't get word to Mom. wondering if. she could! Denise called next door to Jon's house. you probably won't be able to see your dad for a while." Denise replied.OK?" "But." Denise repondonded with finality. but. She was informed that Doris had just left. thanks. Please?" "Sure. in fact." "Well. Reluctantly. Are you alone. But. I'm sure. except with a cold. her mind made up. Denise thought. dialed the number. His secretary just said he was 'sick'! Can you drive me to the hospital? I've got to see him. don't panic. Bye. I'll see. I'm sure it'll be OK. Why don't you wait until your mom gets home. when she can get more information. Your mom will tell you more about it. you know. Denise looked up the phone number of their regular dentist. OK? I just need to let your mother know what's going on.let's wait and see what the Doctor says. thanks for calling. anyway. and asked for Doris. "No. "I don't know if that's a good idea. he's just sick. and I don't know what to do! I don't even know what's wrong with him. fear rising up in her rapidly. "Denise. Thanks for calling. I"ll be right over. It was strange that she would be getting a call from his secretary. that was Dad's territory. Now what? Denise thought. and find out what's going on. Denise? Would you like me to come over and stay until she gets home?" "No. Get word to her as soon as you can. Your dad has been taken to the hospital. by now. I just got a call that Dad's been taken to the hospital. what's wrong with him? He's never sick. I've got to get down to the hospital and find out what's going on. She resented that the secretary had not told her all the details. Sweetheart.the business.

Denise. She wanted so much to believe him. "Oh. led Denise to the third floor of the hospital.and I'll be right with you!" "Jon. leaving the milk and banana where they were. Tom had been found unconscious in his office. it would be all right. and Jon was doing his best to try to comfort her. It would be another hour before any of the family could even see Tom. She thought about Todd. Denise started for the door. Some made it. That'll save time! Please hurry!" Grabbing her purse. so Jon suggested they try to catch Doris at home. Jon then obtained the phone number from Denise for Grandpa and Grandma Whitaker. and she had casually known some who'd had heart attacks. and receiving directions to the Intensive Care Unit. She couldn't imagine life without Dad. He called. around the corner. He had regained consciousness. They called Denise's house. he's just got to!" Denise cried. she recalled painfully. don't bother coming over here. Jon held her close. but it seemed to take forever. some didn't. then remembered the television was on. She remembered the things she had learned in Health class at school. giving the facts as well as he could. but no one answered. the nurse on duty explained. He would be allowed to have only brief visits. repeatedly telling her not to worry. They promised to be right over. asking where Tom Whitaker had been taken. Denise thought. I'll meet you at your car. but still was in serious condition. She turned it off. Jon took over. and ran for Jon's car. immediate family only. informing them of their son's condition. by this time. was crying uncontrollably. drawing reassurance from his calmness. And it had been such an . Should she go by Tim's and get him? No she would let Mom decide about him. and had been brought to the hospital by ambu1ance. why did this have to happen? Dad's always been so healthy! He's got to get well. Once there. she told them. Denise leaned on him. What would she have done without Jon? The trip to the hospital was short. every two hours until his condition stabilized. and to the ICU's nurse's station. The examination and tests revealed that he had suffered a heart attack.

Noting that it was the time the nurse had said Tom could have a brief visit. and collapsed! She awakened in Jon's arms. then rushed straight to the hospital. in the hospital bed. and monitors were on to alert the nursed of any change in his heart activity. she caught her breath. motionless. He was sleeping. The nurse suggested that Doris go in to see Tom first. she answered. until this happened! They kept trying to get Doris on the phone. she said fearfully. Then she remembered all that had happened. When Denise stepped into the little cubicle. The medication was being given intravenously. and returned with tears flowing freely down her cheeks. Her dad was lying there. Not like this! Let Grandma and Grandpa go in. . Everything possible was being done. and began crying hysterically. Denise's grandparents were already there by the time Doris arrived. she suggested that Denise not go in to see her dad. apparently sleeping. trying to calm them all. After regaining her composure. with the lifeless look her mother had tried to describe. they started to the nurse's station just as Doris rounded the corner. and medication had been given to re1ieve the chest pain. and though the tests showed Tom did have some damage to his heart. He was receiving oxygen to decrease the workload of the heart. which was covered with tape. and suddenly. but she was afraid for Denise to see her dad this way. with tubing running to his left hand. and were in the waiting room with Denise and Jon. the prognosis was favorable at this time. Her senses were assaulted by the strong. she reassured them. And Denise wanted to go in alone. with her Mom and Grandparents hovering over her. and explained that Tom was under sedation. opened it. She had to get out of here! She made it to the door. but Denise insisted. antiseptic odor. The nurse came over. Doris was in the room only a short time. Denise felt very faint. wires connected to his chest ran overhead to a machine that had a continuous "beep-beep'. and after nearly an hour. Oxygen tubing was strapped to his white face. if they wanted. Bags of clear liquid were hanging above his left side. Doris pleaded.ordinary day.

Doris and Tom had little to do with her parents. They attended the same Church. Doris dialed the phone. For a while." She hestitated a moment. I just called to tell you that Tom has had a heart attack. and though the two families weren't close. It sounded thick with sleep. they had a casual friendship. avoiding marital conflict. Oh. after their son's only death. attending the same school. and sometimes in town. Doris and her parents' differences increased. when she had married him. "Is everything alright? You sound upset. their children had grown up together. but spoke politely. This had gone on for a while. causing a rift in the relationship. and Doris realized that. A male voice answered quickly. she reasoned. nowadays. having married right out of High School. and wait for more news. they did have a right to know about their son-in-law's condition. although it wasn't late by her standard. "Well. Hon. and went on their way. treating him in every way as they would their own son. Charlie and Irene Smith had allowed Tom to fill the void. Doris' dad had even coached Tom in Little League. feeling both joy and fear at his daughter's long awaited call. "That's OK. as if they were casual aquaintances." Charlie answered. as the young couple began to mature. they saw them at Church. But." he asked with genuine concern. as Tom sided with his wife. who had later been killed in the Vietnam war. Did I wake you? I hope I didn't alarm you. along withhis own son.Calmed by the nurse's explanation. Doris reluctantly decided to call her parents who lived on a small farm just outside town. as she realized how long it had been since she had called her parents. But. He's in ICU. She remembered how pleased they had been when she had started dating Tom. to relax. "Dad. I thought you probably would want to . Denise agreed to go with Jon to the Snack Bar of the hospital to get something to drink. The two families had lived in the same town most of their lives. Doris's older brother. here at Holden Memorial. and later. it was probably well past their bedtime. Something quickened within her. this is Doris. especially with her Mom. and Doris was reluctant to break the silence.

So I think he's doing pretty good. they said. to have gone this long without more problems. quietly. she said. "And the nurse assured me everything was being done for him that can be. now. again. Anyway." Hesitating again. anymore. Not with all her other worries! "Hold on a minute. I just wanted to let you know. but she realized she just wasn't ready to spend time in their presence. Your mother wants to talk to you." This call had been a major step. She did miss that old assurance she'd had as a child. "Oh. Dorrie. I've got to go check on Tom. I know what you taught me. that prayer could really change things. if you want. "Dorrie. But. feeling some of the old resentment and frustration returning. or could answer prayer." Charlie said. Bye. are you OK? What happened? Is Tom's condition critical. "Well." Irene said with conviction. run down her cheeks. as the tears in her eyes began to spill over. But. and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. or has he stabilized?" "Well. almost unable to release the words from her tongue.know. but you know I don't really believe that stuff. we'll be praying for y'all. I'll let you know if anything changes. drugs. "Do you want us to come over? We'll be right there if you want us. but things just don't seem the same to me. handing the phone to his anxious wife." Doris hesitated." "I'm glad. Mom. I 1ove you. and I know the Lord will take care of it. no." Doris replied. "Yes. I know this must be a real shock to you. "You can pray for him. he hasn't had any more problems since he was admitted. He was found unconscious at the office at about three o'clock this afternoon. Hon!" He volunteered sincerely. how could any intelligent adult continue to believe those things? Look at all the misery in the world! Children dying of hunger. She could go on and on! If God was really in control. not sure their presence was desired. why was the world in such a mess? . trying to hide her fear and resentment. It's going to be OK! I'm sure he'll be fine." She hung up the receiver. her voice reflected the grief and uncertainty she felt. if he would. mass murder. earthquakes. and again." Doris' mind returned to the crisis at hand. too. Mom.

Tom was progressing nicely. "Medication is being given to dilate the coronary arteries. and assuring her she would call if there were any changes. it'll be a while before he'll be able to return to work." the doctor continued. and then hurried to the hospital to visit with her dad. Of course. she insisted. we'll probably move him out of ICU in a couple of days. Doris thought. just as the doctor had predicted. He drove a silent. Tom was transferred to a private room. rushed home from school every day to get her homework.But. so he won't mention any of the business problems to Tom." Doris told the doctor. lost in her own world of unspoken thought. help Todd with his. he'll be able to go home. . Jon walked with Denise to the car." A few days later. to help at the office." he explained to Doris and Denise. according to the doctor on the case. and Grandma Whitaker waited for more news of Tom's condition." "As far as I know. withdrawn Denise home. relieved that Dad was no longer in ICU. nowadays. gently leading her by the arm. She returned to the ICU waiting room where Denise.Then. I'll talk to his assistant and explain the situation to him. soon. But. and freedom from stress and anxiety. when they found him unconscious. if he continues to be free of complications. Jon. you know that Tom has always been a 'workaholic'. Doris spent most of the time there. She always had an answer for everything! Right or not. Grandpa. but it could have been much worse. There was some damage to the right side of the heart. "But. The days came and went. Denise. leaving little clue to the emotional trauma just speaking to her parents had born. so he should be able to take care of everything that comes up in the office. Do you know when he'll be transferred to a private room? If all continues to go well. After Doris insisted that Denlse go home for some rest. "The important thing is for Tom to get plenty of rest. Doris knew better than to ask her mother these questions. I think it scared everybody pretty bad. Tom's not been under any stress at home. "That will allow increased oxygen and blood flow to the heart muscle itself. and he has an assisitant that he hired a couple of years ago. She just wanted to be alone. Her tears had ceased. She refused his offer to stay with her for a while.

long-distance. too long. and it's equipment. or afraid "Mom" might need her. with all the relatives he had around here. direct. she was still sweet to him. She hadn't answered his last two letters. but it was only two weeks until graduation. Denise understood. looking out the window to make sure his mom hadn't driven up. when Tom was released from the hospital. What had happened? He knew she had been busy. dialed the phone. ever since Denise's old man got sick! She wasn't any fun anymore. to go to her. with a long list of 'do's and don'ts". and he was worried about her. He had waited as long as he could. . when they were together. the long awaited day came. What a homecoming that was! THE SLUMBER PARTY Chapter 5 Jon. Todd never seemed to take the situation seriously. probably just hadn't gotten around to it. She was intrigued by the efficiency and professionalism of the nurses she met. or a million other reasons to stay close to home. He always had things to attend to. She wondered what she would have done without Jon! No longer was Denise afraid of the hospital. but he seldom stayed long. even if Mom and Dad refused to help. while visiting with her dad. Things had been so boring here. In fact. and seemed to enjoy the attention he was getting from the other patients and nurses. Then.Jon was always available to drive them over. she became quite fascinated by the things she saw. Oh. She was always worried about "Dad". and was very touched by the other patients she met. And he would surely get enough money in graduation gifts. finally. and life returned to almost normal for the Whitakers. to talk with Carolyn. He just laughed and played and talked with anyone who would listed. but it was like she was in another world. But.

a man's voice came over the wire. Jon thought. May I take a message?" After a long pause. She'd have to have a phone for her job. middle-aged. as he waited. All his plans down the tube! How could Carolyn do this to him? Then he remembered. "No. Maybe he had dialed it wrong. if he wasn't a millionaire. is there anything I can do for you.. Jon thought to himself. please?" "Jonathon Rivers. Jon replied. It seemed to take a long time. Please have her call 915-" Interrupting Jon in mid-sentence. sir. But. In a state of shock. he wasn't far . Please hold. what about the office of that company she had been working for? "Carolyn Adams.. pondering this unexpected turn of events. "Yes. but after a few minutes." Jon asked with his most adult tone. and that she'll no longer be accepting calls from her former 'friends'! Now. sir?" the man asked icily. Jon rallied." The receptionist had a pleasant. who was this Michael Brady? He had heard that name somewhere before. politely. she had called him. the man asked. again! I can't imagine Carolyn without a phone. "You say you're a good friend of hers? Well. It's extremely important that 1 speak to her right away." and hung up the phone. That's strange! The recording said the number he dialed had been disconnected. Jon started to the kitchen. almost sexy voice. So that's why my letters weren't answered. a close friend of Carolyn's. "Yes.If he could just get Carolyn on the phone. Mike Brady. millionaire! Well. " "Thank you. then. evidently she has neglected to tell you that we have just recently been married. this is Michael Brady. please. May I ask who's calling. Her boss! Carolyn had married a fat. Thank you. No. this is Jonathon Rivers. Well. sir. You asked to speak with Carolyn Adams? She's not available. the same recording.

K. Jon dialed the phone again.from it. instead of waiting untiI falI. cut a man-sized portion. Denise voiced her disappointment sweetly. "Denise. as the sun slowly slid out of sight. anyway. She had planned to spend a lot of time with him this summer. The day was starting to look brighter with every passing minute! With a new enthusiasm for life. He knew they'd be glad to shell out the bucks for college." They sat out on Denise*s front porch." O. But. as his mind raced feverishly. Yeah. and Dad's going back to bed. and purple clouds in the west. Now what? He took the cover off the freshly baked German Chocolate cake. come on over. Can you beat that? She sure had wrecked his plans. He hadn't yet shared his plans with them. the better! He could hardly wait to tell Mom and Dad. He decided not to burn any bridges. Jon's folks had their hearts set on him going to college this fall. and watched the gold. since Dad feeling better. reasoned Jon. right after graduation and get a head start on the other freshmen. and poured a large glass of milk. as it probably would have been a big hassle for nothing! Yeah! There would be plenty of girls and fun on a college campus! Only. he hadn't made any promises to her. he hadn't done so bad for himself so far! Jon had very discreetly been with a few of the other girls in town. Mom will probably watch T.. he guessed it was a good thing. she explained. in the bedroom with him. is it OK if I come over for a while? I really need to talk to you. the sooner. anyway! Sitting at the bar. there were plenty of other fish in the sea! There was Denise. he finished off the snack. We just finished supper. why not. After all. for awhile. and now.V. "Sure. Jon discussed the idea of going to school this summer." Denise said thoughtfully. yet. coral. and Todd's got homework to do. for one! And there were several other girls around here. since Denise had been so wrapped up in her family. He was ready to get away from this hick town. for that matter! He could live without Carolyn! After all. Jon assured her he would be able to come home on . Well. why wait until fall to go to college? He could go to summer classes.

as they drank in the lovely warmth of togetherness. And it could happen! Sure. I just decided that Mom and Dad were right." Denise questioned curiously. They listened to the night sounds. "But. He found it to be a very unpleasant thought. and commitment. all my plans depend on you. so I can feel close to you even when you're gone. that was different! Impulsively. that she might be with other guys while he was gone. He'd have to wait to talk with Dad tomorrow. Jon. and she would hardly even miss him. so pretty. of course. I do need a college education. I guess. and graduation is just two weeks off. he wanted to get all the loose ends tied up as soon as possible. And if I'm gonna go. unless I know you'll be waiting for me when I come back. and read the emotion surfacing in Denise's. isn't this kind of sudden? You've never mentioned it to me before. Something began to stir in Jon. to get everything cleared with Mom. don't ever worry about me wanting anyone else. Yeah. said. Will you wear my ring? Will you go steady with me. he planned to have a good time. and in his most charming. I haven't wanted anyone else since I first saw you! I'll keep your ring.weekends. In fact. and headed across the driveway to his home. without him around. "Sweetheart. Jon. Now. as he thought of Denise. I could go to work for my dad. He realized he would be very upset if he should come home. But. "I know. and live it up at college. and find her seeing someone else. I just started thinking about it. charming. dreamy eyes. I can't go off to college. and naive. sitting on the porch in the ever increasing darkness. as he was out of town tonight. Denise?" He turned on the full power of his big. and I didn't really have any plans. peaceful sounds." Jon explained carefully. unexpectedly. I'll be here for you. though. Jon took off his Senior ring. you* re all I'll ever want!" They spent some time in sweet embrace. But. he would have to . and wear it. But. Jon kissed Denise goodbye. as soon as Vickie and Amanda drove up. surprisingly. But. The thought had never occurred to him before. but. "Oh. Of course. sexy manner. I got the impression that the idea of college turned you off. held it out to Denise. I guess it is sorta sudden. why not just get started so I can get it over with sooner.

she realized it was the first time since that slumber party. but first things first! Denise lay in her bed. Sleeping bags were spread out in the floor. shouting.decide what he wanted to study. and exhaustion began to surface. came the tears. boredom. now had rosy red cheeks. privileges. secure and loved. with some of the most popular girls in her Jr. and now she was! This was a milestone in her life. and playing.V. and with the memories. dark. and scary movies. and too-large red lips. anticipating a fun-filled night. who quickly joined in the fun. when she was just twelve years old.C. But. rainbow shadowed eyes with thickly smeared black lashes. then the memories of that life-changing night flooded over her. that she had felt so secure. talking. and she was wearing Jon's ring. catching the attention of the other girls in the room. singing. She had wound yarn around the backside of Jon's oversized ring until it fit her. not one to give in easily to sleep. She had arrived at the designated time and place. Thinking back. High class attending. Angela. they automatically separated into groups. leaving little space to walk. Two of the Mom's were present to supervise. and V. feeling safe. and the girls quickly changed into their pajamas. intent on having a good time. After a few minutes of brushing and painting. normally a very pretty girl. and bickering increased among the friends. (sort of clown-like). straight brows. she decided. Denise began to laugh. She had been invited to a slumber party at Nancy's house. And now that Dad was so much better. Denise sat back to look at her creation. games.R. and where. and they were given all-night cable T. Many delicious snacks and beverages were set out for the girls' enjoyment. After several hours of snacks. And as girls will do. things were really starting to look up! She had dreamed of going steady with Jon. had talked Angela into being a model for her experimentation with make-up not usually allowed twelve-year-olds. she remembered. . Caressing it tenderly with her fingertips. Denise. she remembered how sweet and patient Jon had been with her during the entire time of Dad's illness.

"No. Denise! You did this on purpose!" Angela screamed viciously. and . Then suddenly. spurred on by Angela's frustration. you're not as smart as you thought!" Angela retorted. "You think you're so smart.force on Denise! "Denise. Denise turned. On the verge of tears. let me by! I don't know why you're being so mean! Let me in there. pulling. and gaining momentum as all attention shifted from her to Denise. But. and noting the frightened look on their faces. Was Angela freaking out. she blocked Angela's path to the bathroom. no! It can't be! It's a lie! Can't you see it's a lie?" The voice seemed to be coming from far away as Angela's words began to penetrate Denise'a consciousness. "Well. or what? "Your real mother didn't love you! She gave you away to strangers! I heard my Mom say so! See. Seeing them whispering. enjoying her revenge. and got up from the floor angrily. and trying to break the barrier that prevented her.Angela had become very self-conscious at being the center of unwanted attention. she retorted. you're not so smart! You don't even know who your own mother is!" The room grew suddenly quiet. pushing. Denise was having too much fun to let her wash it off so quickly! Enlisting the aid of a few more girls. starting for the bathroom. and refused to let her under. until she became aware that everyone was quietly staring at her. Denise looked unbelievingly at the other girls. "Who's she kidding?" She continued laughing at Angela's joke. the girls just giggled. Now! I mean it!" She shouted. Of course she knew who her mother was. Angela had turned her anger full. But. and pointed more than ever. as she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror on the wall. around or through the barricade. What are you talking about?" Denise laughed. No one else seemed to think this was a joke! Shocked.

she wondered why. just knowing she had to get out of that house! Denise remembered running wildly for a very long time. she had never been the same since that night. the path or her attire. running with all her might. Doris and Tom had explained how badly they had wanted a child. since. . why didn't her parents tell her? If it was true. but Denise was unable to respond. and over. Denise wondered about the woman who had carried her in her womb for nine months. And. not even knowing where she was. especially in the quiet hours of the night. she heard him repeating her name over. and carried her to the car. Was she still alive? Did she have other children. by now? Why didn't her biological mother love her? Denise wondered if that woman ever wondered about her. Doris and Tom tried explaining to her. her mind continuously questioning 'why?' Why did Angela say those things? If they were true. But. and recognized the pain and concern in his voice. She was reassured of Doris and Tom's love for her. And frequently. Denise came to understand that she had been adopted as an infant. why didn't her 'real* mother love her? She finally collapsed in the darkness. a family. Several years after adopting Denise. Awakened as her Dad picked her up out of the ditch. Todd had been born into the family. she blocked out the pain that was tearing at her young heart.bolted out the side door of the house. They had even called out the Police to help find her. unaware of the darkness. again. and not caring! Unaware of the time of night. They explained the fear and pain they had experienced when they received the call from Nancy's mom about the incident. After being tucked into her own bed. Doris was still unable to get pregnant. Later. but numbness and fatigue prevented Denise's ability to comprehend. and then gave her away to perfect strangers. and Denise had been a such a blessing to them. who were her parents? If it was true. given birth to her. after eight years of trying to conceive.

Thunderstorms were prevalent in West Texas this time of year. There it was again! Denise looked at the clock by her bedside to determine the time. all of which survived. pierced the dark stillness. was all she could hear. quickly followed by a low. What had awakened her. fear wasn't to be rationalized away. at school. and cause her breathlessness to subside. loud rumble of thunder. still. but Dad always just laughed at her. No. Trying desperately to calm her pounding heart. with her heart pounding heavily in her chest. like this. playing music on the window panes. listening for sounds that would indicate another member of the family was awake. She should be used to it. she reminded herself that she had lived through a thousand of these storms without harm. just the sounds of the wind ravaging against the house. she remembered occasions in which she had seen the damage done by tornadoes. And again. she thought. followed by a loud crash. Denise decided she might as well get . and a few large drops of rain. which affected no one else in the family. and her breath coming too rapidly. She crept out of bed. popping. and had heard the accounts given by the victims. But. luckily! She had learned the precautions one should take when the weather was bad. momentarily disoriented. made her feel like such a child. she wondered fearfully. the lightening flashed. Denise awakened.GRADUATION DAY! Chapter 6 A bright flash of light. This fear. But. a continual cracking. A feeling of panic was growing inside Denise. as streaks of light penetrated her room through her closed curtains. wanting to run to Mommy to be protected! Glancing again at the clock.

It was his special day! She continued applying her makeup. carefully choosing their . It was such a cool feeling! Completing her preparations. Jon would be here any minute. She heard Jon's car honk and she and Todd. with a dropped waistline. Denise hurried through breakfast. pink pinstripes on a white background. the 'in crowd'. and the claps of thunder less frequent. and mid-calf length which accented her slenderness and height. but he had become such an intricate part of her life. She wanted to look special today for Jon. Would it never end? She chose a dress. Her first graduation party. without Jon being there. And so proud of him! Denise began to wonder how she would make it through school next year. She and Todd had been riding to school with him. She had only known him for three months. and realized the storm was quieter now. As Denise looked into her closet to choose an outfit for the day. and purse. of course). and warning Todd to hurry. it's natural curls falling softly into place. This was the last day of the school year. She knew many of the other girls in High School were envious since she was wearing Jon's ring. she jumped nervously at a loud clap of thunder. And she could hardly wait.ready for school. setting them on the sofa in the living room. Denise gathered her raincoat. and graduation services were set for tonight! Jon's graduation! She was so happy for him. the wind seemed to have subsided. And she always met with Jon at noon for lunch. umbrella. and started toward the heavenly smell of bacon frying in the kitchen. checked herself over one more time. and home again. How lonely it would be when he was away at college! Oh. Denise thought. It always made her feel like a lady. made from a linen-type fabric. And now that she was allowed to date him freely. this weather really was depressing! And it should be a day of excitement! She and Jon planned to really celebrate after the service. Denise took a deep breath. The flashes of lightening were becoming hardly noticeable. mature and feminine. the last few weeks. just a low rumble. but the rain continued. She had made it through another one! She brushed her shoulder length hair until it glistened in the light. and she was looking forward to it. she felt sort of accepted by even the older girls in school. (with a curfew.

you sure look fine. But they must be standing near her stall door. Denise did not mean to eavesdrop. It was not unusual for the restrooms to be packed between classes. "Babe.path to avoid walking in the standing water. Denise decided happily. if I have anything to do with it!" Denise saw only a bit of a girl's leg. because even though they were talking in hushed voices. she thought she heard someone mention Jon's name. she decided. He drives that gorgeous black sportscar. she decided to make a quick visit to the restroom. This day was going to be good. the description sure fit. but we talked a while. and pride in his eyes. on her way to class. it was pretty late when I ran into him at the convenience store. still rattling on. I heard he's gonna be at the party tonight. you know the one! Anyway. that guy that just moved here a few months ago! Dark hair. then heard the stillness in the room as the large door sqeaked open. "You know who he is. does he ever know how to kiss! Not like most of the amateurs around here. Remember? Well. She read the look of admiration. how? When? Why? And what could she do? Should she just ignore it? Or . beautiful brown eyes. It continued to be a cloudy. several times. then she would be with Jon. big. And she described his car! But. Jon was visibly inpressed as he watched Denise approach the car. He's gonna take me home tonight. after all. She winced with pain at the things she had overheard. that's for sure! I didn't get home until two o'clock in the morning. and I can't wait. Today was no exception. After finally getting into the stall. made their way to his car. then we went on the drag. the look she had wanted to capture. but how could she help it? Who was doing the talking? She didn't recognize the voice. again. we had a great time. and her beige. dreary day. today!" His eyes lingered on her briefly. But. she could hear every word clearly. and man. together. ******* Finally! The day was almost over! The rain had stopped and started. Only one more class to go. olive skin. and closed. flat pumps as the girl walked past the stall door. Could that really have been Jon they were talking about? Yet.

three-year-old Amanda. 'Neece. Denise looked at Amanda's big. Exact replicas of her big brother's.confront Jon with what she had overheard? Or hunt down the girl wearing the beige slippers? Denise had no idea who it was! Surely." "Where do you want to go.. saying. Dumplin'. and the eighty-one other graduating seniors." . It was just about time for the service to start. The Whitakers and the Rivers sat together. pleadingly. "I gotta go.K. what an awful day this has been. And they seemed to have the same power to melt her. Will you take me?" Amanda looked at Denise. brown eyes. I gotta go now!" "O. Maybe someone else who resembled him. what if it were true? Denise had never doubted Jon's loyalty to her before. "Please. awaiting the climax of all the years of public education for Jon. who was sitting on Denise's lap. put her arm around Denise's neck. The girl said it had been late when they met. Denise thought. Amanda. Just then. although she couldn't think of anyone like that in this town! But. "I gotta go to the bathroom. readying for the service. Denise looked at her watch. 'Neece. They had been together almost constantly. Oh. There was an almost continual hum in the building generated by the whispers and quiet conversation of the visitors. sensing Denise's hesitation. she always had to be in early. Denise thought. this couldn't have happened since they had been going steady. whispered in Denise's ear. Amanda?" Denise questioned patiently. But. too. and Denise didn't want to miss a single minute of it. as final details were completed behind the stage. all day long! And the cloud that hung over her now was far darker than the ones that hung over the small West Texas town! ******* The small auditorium was packed to capacity. No! It couldn't have been Jon! She had to be wrong. but we'll have to hurry! The service is gonna start right away.

then lifting her to the sink to wash her hands. or important moment in the . had brought his movie camera. Jon's dad. to no avail. Amanda was always trying to please her. But. Denise thought. she couldn't help but wonder. and caps with dangling gold tassels. Unintentionally. affectionately. Just as they sat down. The service was brief. happy to be regarded highly. and hand in hand. before giving her away to strangers. Denise loved her adopted parents. as the honorees proceeded along. A warm feeling came over her. as they waited for Jon to march down the aisle. And there was always a sharp pain with the thought of being rejected by her own mother. No beige slippers! At Denise's insistance. pointing toward him. and thought no mother could have been better to her. Amanda hurried. until she remembered her mother. Then she heard the music start in the auditorium. each looking very distinguished in the black robes. If she just knew why! Of course. and Tom was prepared with his camera and flashbulbs. and wondered if she had ever felt this way. 'Neese! There he is! There's Bubba!" she cried excitedly. considering all the speakers that each had a turn at relating a humorous. her biological mother. sentimental. with Amanda again in Denise's lap. as the students marched single-file to the reserved seats in the very front. Amanda was the first to spy Jon among the students. by Jon's little sister. The flashes from all the cameras were lighting up the aisles. James. But. Denise and Amanda walked to the back of the auditorium to the restroom. and she and Amanda hurriedly made their way back to their seats. "Look. Denise kept noticing the shoes of every girl she met. still. which were as near to the front as possible. she thought how she would love to be a mother to a little girl like this.Denise leaned over to tell Doris they would be right back. with plenty of cartridges. the procession of graduating students began. It made her feel just that much closer to Jon! Straightening Amanda's dress.

D. After a few drags around town. There was quite a celebration right there at Jon's house. There were tears in Denise's eyes. leaving very little to spend elsewhere. Denise had paid on the gift weekly with her allowance. He was worth it! She wanted so much to please Jon! He held out his arm for her to fasten it on him. it was soon over. holding their awards. Everyone laughed and teased Denise about blushing! But she was . too. as mothers and fathers watched their offspring receive the recognition each had worked so hard for. decorated just for Jon. The house was decorated inside with streamers. and as soon as possible. briefly. When they arrived at Jon's house. and balloons. with the punch bowl filled. there were relatives' cars parked all around. bracelet. Many tears were shed. and the nearby buffet was loaded with graduation gifts for him. but she didn't mind. Jon's name was to have been engraved. as 'ooh's and aahs' came from all over the room. It had been placed on lay-away over a month ago. A large cake. Jon headed toward home for a change of clothes. Originally. Then. but she didn't stop to analyse why. was centered on the table. money. and a few gag gifts! But the most special gift of the evening was from Denise! It was an expensive gold I. Much to Amanda's disappointment. and Denise rode off with Jon. Then right in front of everybody. and the house was aglow with lights. and joy. and there was much laughter. some for use in the college dorm. he leaned over and kissed her sweetly. but after committing to 'steadies'. time came for each to ascend to the stage to receive their diploma. Jon insisted Denise help with opening the gifts. or all of this graduating class. She just felt so proud for Jon. she had changed the order. made their way to congratulate their special graduate. her Jon! As the class marched single-file from the auditorium to the reception hall. before they left to go to the party.lives of one. the entire audience came to their feet. He received many gifts. with her name engraved on it. clothes.

Denise thought! Denise felt so close to Jon tonight. and dress pants. She chided herself for even thinking Jon might have been unfaithful to her! Not her Jon! It had to have been someone else. they said goodbye. She knew lots of girls would like to have been in her place! PARTY TIME! Chapter 7 There were two different graduation parties going on tonight. And like a native Texan! Denise was going next door to change. the girl had just been fantasizing out loud. She hadn't bothered to ask which party they were going to. or perhaps. which was held at the local Community Center. You know Gloria Benson.happy. but I'm not sure if I know her. "Who lives here. Denise thought he could not have looked more handsome. and left for the party. Denise was surprised when Jon pulled up at a large house on the edge of town. So." Denise asked curiously." . as soon as was courteously possible. don't you?" "I recognize the name. that Jon had to drive around the block to find an empty parking space. "I think the Benson's. she thought. So happy! The day had finally brightened. to black jeans. Jon? I'm not very familiar with this part of town. and one some of the students decided to put together. with a gentle reminder from Doris that Denise was to be home by midnight. tie. Jon changed from his white shirt. assuming it would be the one highly advertised by the school newspaper. one which was parent/school sponsored. And with his black and silver trimmed belt and black boots. Denise knew. The yard was well lit. and a red and black striped sports shirt. but Jon insisted she looked perfect in her new white jumpsuit. And that was being lenient. but so many cars were parked there already.

They had a reputation for pulling all kinds of wild stunts. come on. Jon. Music drifted from the house. The music was turned up loud. Jon led Denise over to a table where a keg of beer was sitting. and laughter. She felt so mature. and Jon squeezed her hand. are we gonna have fun tonight! Man. drew up a glass. but. she wasn't impressed with them. You'll get used to the taste after a few drinks." Denise answered. we can cut loose! I'm sure glad that stuffy ceremony is over. "Oh. the room was packed. but. and led her over to a group of older kids."She's cool. "Yeah. Denise. Jon was saying. audible even out to the parked car. and the lights were dim. it's all over now. ." Jon replied. and she was only a sophomore! As they approached the door to the house. This was going to be a night to remember. Denise thought with excitement. At least for four more years. but didn't see anyone with whom she was more familiar. Denise looked around for someone with whom she would feel more comfortable. so privileged. getting to go to a private graduation party. but that one will be a lot different. I couldn't wait to get out of there!" "I know you must have been nervous. and drew one up for himself. "Babe. and someone invited them in. drink it up. handed it to Denise. "Then you'11 have to go through it all again!" They laughed. trying to hand it back to him as she looked self-consciously around the room. as she thought he looked more like a movie star or country singer type! The door opened just as they reached the step. Could I just have a Coke?" she asked hesitantly. You*11 have a lot more fun if you do! Besides. and I'll be set for life!" "You sure don't look like any accountant I know!" Denise remarked. you'll like her. She knew most of them in a casual way. I'll have my degree in Business and Accounting. everyone is drinking. as he held her hand tightly." He took her by the hand. "I really don't like beer. and a heady sense of adventure.

romantic song. Jon likes them.Then. watching Jon. And a little beer never hurt anyone! Just because you've never been to a party like this before is no reason to be so uncomfortable. Jon turned. "I'm afraid I haven't had much practice. isn't it?" Jon asked sweetly. Of course. Denise returned to the scene just in time to catch the contest! All the guys were drinking beer just as fast as they could. took her in his arms. you're with Jon. to the beat of a very sweet. they're not that bad. Did she have a right to be jealous? She admitted to herself that she was. After all. close like this! What's that perfume you're wearing? It's driving me wild!" Just as Denise was about to answer him. but. older girl. but there was such an air of excitement. "Hey. close like that. She tried to get hold of herself. feeling much better. Surely. a guy she knew as Chris cut in and Jon released her to him. now. he's going steady with you! It's amazing how good a friend a mirror can be. What do you expect? He"s a man. she counseled herself. she sipped her beer. Just relax and have a good time! Don't get all bent out of shape about him dancing with that other girl. and she smiled." "You're a little tense." Denise replied softly. But she couldn't understand why! She kept glancing around the room. too. observing his weird haircut. it was difficult for her to relax. She winced at how closely he was holding her. trying to appear at ease. she knew a lot of guys did it. and wondering why anyone would want lines shaved into the sides of their hair. A few of the other couples were dancing. isn't he? But. then began dancing with another. trying hard not to make a face with each swallow. There. right or not! As soon as the song ended. Denise excused herself. Denise marvelled. this is the first time we've danced together. trying to outdrink . she found a place of privacy for a few moments. she noticed. "Uh huh. The bitterness was assaulting her taste buds! Jon was laughing and talking with his friends. so it's OK. and laughed appropriately. It's just because you don't know the kids well.Slowly. as he refilled his glass. and danced away from the group. Denise reluctantly finished the dance with him. and began looking for a restroom. lately. you'll loosen up! You sure feel good to me. in Denise's ear. gulped it down.

and began seriously trying to drink the beer. "Who did you see? Someone you wanted to talk to?" Jon questioned. The girl seemed to be having a good time. and quantity. feeling loved. she caught a glance. "What's the matter. and Jon headed for the restroom. "Oh. The skirt was made in layers of ruffles in a very becoming style.consciously. Denise found herself finally starting to relax. She could have enjoyed the fun a lot more.each other in time. between couples. no. Just then. Denise recognized her as being in Jon's class. self. Could it be? Were those the beige slippers she had seen in the restroom earlier today? Her whole body stiffened suddenly. Denise milled about. And there she was. I'd better watch what I'm doing. Oh. I'm sorry!" Denise answered. as she strained to get a closer look. and she had seen her around the school. As Jon held Denise tightly against him. Denise?" Jon asked. looking for a pair of beige pumps. It was nothing. Let him have his fun! The contest ended with several large burps. in spite of the awful taste. and looking very pretty and petite in her short dress. and the winner was still in question. and the girl who was wear ing them. Everyone was laughing. She wished Jon hadn't participated in the contest. as she was guzzling her beer. with shades of blue print on a beige background. Denise noted the sound of slight irritation in his voice. The group dispersed. swinging slowly to the music in the dimly lit room. some began to dance. sending tingles down her spine. it was his night. and laughing . just a glance across the room. But. as he tried to avoid stepping on Denise's foot. but couldn't recall her name. nothing. worn shoulder length. oh well. But when the dance was over. laughing. "Oh. Just forget it. He was softly singing the words of the love song in her ear. huh!" She moved even closer within the circle of his arms. with bright copper-red hair. She loved being close to Jon. and acting really crazy. Denise decided. "I thought I saw someone." Denise responded sweetly. Jon. never mind. a creamy light complexion. and again. Denise retrieved her glass.

they saw the police car with the red and blue lights flashing pull up in front of the house they had just left. please!" Denise pleaded. I can handle my beer! Don't you worry about that! Man. with relief. Denise noticed his speech was starting to slur. for sure. Just as Jon's car pulled around the block. "Jon. and you've got to slow down! "Denise. I bet the neighbors called the cops. But suddenly. he wasn't in on the fight! The lights were so dim she could hardly tell. "What's the matter with you. please slow down. even holding her breath at times. I'm glad we got out of there when we did! I bet somebody is gonna be in trouble over all that!" Jon said excitedly. she tried again. Jon. "Jon. going much faster than was necessary. as he made a right-hand turn. she noticed he was going awfully fast for this part of town. And as he drove. right before her eyes. hollering. you've been drinking. even some of the girls. Denise cringed. a loud commotion was heard in the other end of the large room. "Let's get out of here! Now!" Guiding her out the back door they heard a siren. Everything was becoming quite chaotic. a free-for-all began! Denise looked around the room. Other's were jumping in on the fight. she could hardly hear herself think! It was all happening so fast. as one guy ended up against the wall. slow down! You're going too fast!" With no response attained. "Whew! We barely made it!" Jon said. with all that fighting and hollering going on. looking back. and hollered above the noise. screaming. making his way to Main Street. You're scaring me! Or let me drive! I only drank that one glass of beer that you gave me. and two others jumped on the one who had shoved him there! And. and swinging Denise almost onto the console! "Jon. Jon came running up to Denise. cursing and fighting. awaiting the outcome. stumbling. anyway? What are you nagging me for? I . Where was Jon? Surely. There was so much noise in the room. Recoiling against the farthest wall. helplessly.excitedly with her friends. and he quickened their pace unevenly. with the loud music. Then. Please. with loud cursing.

with bitterness in his voice. "You didn't drink enough to even loosen up! How did you expect to have a good time? But. But. Jon was beyond reason. much more calmly than she felt. He threw on the brakes. isn't it?" She asked calmly. Denise was suddenly scared. but make up your mind! Now!" Denise was scared! Scared for herself. "But Jon. yet!" He sounded very conf ident of that. as she caught her breath between sobs. "I'm gonna get some more beer at the county line. do you? That's what's wrong with you!" Jon said.haven't done anything to hurt you. "I'm not ready to go home! I'm having a good time! What are you griping about? You don't even know how to have a good time. perhaps. as Jon had turned onto the highway heading out of town. or get out!" Jon shouted to her. "I'd better go on home. since she had asked him to slow down! "Jon. Jon!" Denise begged. I have to be home by midnight. anyway! They'll never even know!" Jon slurred. What could she do? Jon was driving even faster. slurring the words. Jon. "I'm not drunk! It takes a lot more than that to get me drunk! I'm just starting to feel good. or go. and shocked! She had never seen Jon like this before. Denise was holding on tight to avoid being thrown into the windshield. You're drunk. and was picking up speed quickly. And your parents are sound asleep by now. now. doubtfully. and for Jon! What should she . bringing the car to a sudden halt in the midle of the highway. Deni se thought. and you're starting to scare me! Please. Denise continued to plead with Jon to slow down and take her home. that's alright! I know where we can get some more beer. You'll have a good time. She had never seen anyone like this before! Except. it's nearly midnight. in the movies. and wishing she had used the seatbelt that Jon had tucked in under the seat! "OK. as the needle of the speedometer kept rising. You can stay. I"ve had enough of you! Shut up. You know my folks! They'll have a fit if I'm not there! Please take me home. Jon." Denise was fighting a rising panic. have I? I know what I'm doing! I can drive just fine!" Jon exclaimed. in her near-panic.

unbelieving fifteen-year-old girl in the darkness. she saw only open fields. and in the darkness. Jon pushed her hard. if he got more beer. what then? The man she loved had turned into a monster. If she wemt with Jon. . ignoring her panicked screams. leaving her in a crumpled heap on the pavement. The car went speeding over the hill. for what seemed to her like hours. "Get out! If it takes that long for you to decide. where would it end? Was there any way to keep him from wrecking his car. SURVIVAL Chapter 8 Denise lay there on the pavement edge. leaving a fearful. he'll be back. as he leaned over and opened her door. where maybe she could use the phone. mumbling. she reassured herself. just get out! I haven't got all night!" "No. Jon. There wasn't much traffic on this road. alone. if it turned out that she needed it. she could hardly see the fields. She watched the car door swing indecisively for a moment. I'm sorry!" Denise said. and was soon out of sight. But. then. Denise thought. as Jon zoomed down the highway. out the door. The occasional. And it was lightening off in the west. tonight. But Jon made that decision for her. He drove off. and possibly killing them both? And. which was no longer in sight. But. any minute now. cursing. She began to look around for a house nearby. finally swung shut. Shocked into disbelief. crying quietly by this time. far-away lightening in the west offered 1ittle help. Denise thought. So she waited. staring after the black sportscar.do? Should she get out and try to make it back to town on her own? How far out was she anyway? She looked around for some clue but saw only desolation in the darkness. He'll be back. as she tried to restrain her tears and decide what to do.

She had never been alone with this sound. and just above the hill. She finally gave way to the oblivion that was beckoning her. no one knew where she was. and sticky when she veered off the pavement. It had to be Jon! But. Would Mom and Dad come looking for her if she was late? Of course. and she started to run. There was nowhere else to turn! As her hysteria took its toll. Denise felt totally isolated. she rose up. there was no place to hide. God! Please help me!" Denise screamed in panic. looking for some place. as she made her way across the highway to meet his car. clothed in white. Everything she had ever seen on television about rape. ****************************************************** The pickup came to a halt. and tried to decide what to do if Jon didn"t get back soon. Suddenly. violence. but it was to dark to see the tiny hands. anyway. and cold. At last! Jon had returned for her. in the opposite lane. she responded in fear. still. the headlights still shining on the figure just ahead. her weak legs began to refuse to run further without hope of refuge. but now he had come to his senses. Jon. the stillness of the night she heard the coyotes began to howl in the distance. The truck was driving slowly behind her as she ran with all her might! "God. She had known he would! It was all that beer he had drank at the party that had caused him to to go crazy. Oh. Oh. and murder played havoc in her mind. It's O.There had been no cars on the road since Jon had driven off. as the vehicle neared. deliberately. looking around in the darkness. except Jon! Was he too drunk to care? In the darkness. brushed off her white outfit.. Yes. I'm not going to .K. she realized this was not Jon's sleek little sports car! This was a pickup truck! Now what? Terror seized Denise. she saw a light. this darkness. it was slowing down. "It's all right. and it was starting to get a little chilly! Finally. she wondered. she identified two headlights moving toward her. which had just collapsed on the side of the road. Relief flooded over her. help me. any place to hide. no time to cross the fence. and the mud was deep. cautiously. the man climbed out of the truck. calling to the girl softly. off in the distance. before. hurry back! Denise cried out in the night. and. please. Coming closer. What time is it. walked over to the still form. She recognized the sounds but. But. Slowly. please. She looked at her watch.

His mind full of questions. fearfully. Well. alone. he'd have to get her home. He drew a deep breath. thought Roger. where in this small town did she live? Well. and got into the driver's seat. he knew he had not seen a vehicle parked on the side of the road before spotting the girl. at this time of night. anyway? Puzzled. reached down. Just a slight movement of her hand on the seat next to him told him she was coming around. you're safe. he made his way to the truck with the limp body in his arms. Denise. he should take her to the hospital. caring voice. We're almost home. managed to get the pickup door opened. she had been running toward home! Remembering. he realized! With little difficulty." But. there was no response from the young girl. Denise. He had seen no wreck. Was she running away from home? But. Don't be afraid. trying to decide what situation had put her in his charge. He tried to comfort her. He deposited her gently on the seat. regardless of why she was out here. He had been fighting sleep for several hours. But. he glanced over at her. But. saying. and somehow. It's gonna be OK. It's gonna be alright." . he decided. he had to take her somewhere! She couldn't be left out here! It wouldn't take long to get to town. He couldn't just leave her out here. Those words must have been the straw that broke the camel's back. surely." In the dim light from the dash. are you OK? Are you hurt in any way? He asked in a gentle. just go ahead and cry. now. and picked up the young girl in his arms. as she recognized her captor! "Denise. he began to speak to her. and somehow.hurt you. he went around. he saw her slowly. Again. What should he do? He was so tired. She didn't appear to be injured. "It's alright. Relief showed in her face. now. as a seeming dam of tears broke loose in loud sobs. recognition flickered in his head. he could find someone who knew! Or. there was no one in sight. How did she get way off out here. Looking down at her face. racking her entire body. This was Denise! Denise Whitaker. "It's OK. softly. as he had been driving back from that Conference in Dallas. Don't be afraid. perhaps. and look up at him. no. open her eyes. now. or to the police station. still with no response. He looked around for help. Get it all out.

I live at 2204 Walnut. "Lord. "Call me Roger. But. Let your love flow through me. took out a small box of tissues. let your words comfort her. Lord. as he reached out. Roger thought to himself. and put his hand over hers to comfort her. What time is it?" "Only a quarter to one. Roger's heart flooded with compassion for this poor child. through me. and it was as if she were holding on for dear life. it's been awful!" I was so scared!" Then the loud sobs started coming again. . she had never seemed really interested. you know. but he felt ages older! She had been coming to Sunday School even before he had started teaching it. Lord. OK?" Again. first? How can I help you. to help this child. He had tried to reach her heart with the good news of the Gospel. just on the edge of town. should you call home. Mr. for Denise to regain her composure. Thank you." He waited. he turned toward Denise.lit parking area. but there had never been the sparkle of understanding in her eyes. and handed it to her. smiling. I'm afraid my folks are going to be terribly worried! You see. Inwardly. seemingly. Well. "Denise. Wiping her eyes with the back of her hands. I was supposed to have been home by midnight. like a little child. I need your wisdom. "Do you want to tell me where you live. and she usually came quite regularly." Roger said. can you tell me what happened out there? You don't have to. he prayed for guidance. Her loud sobs continued. But. She was always very cooperative with his requests. so I can take you home? Or. but.The lights of town were now clearly visible. Turning off the ignition. patiently waiting for her sobs to subside. patiently. to no avail. she wasn't that much younger than him." He pulled up to a small convenience store. and parked in the well. please show me how to help her. he waited. He leaned over to the glove compartment. She grabbed hold of it. Denise?' 'Oh. she said with a trembling voice. if you wouldn't mind. help her. He thought about all he knew of this young girl. it was more like she was performing a duty. You're not too late. "Oh. I'd really like to know. on the east side of town. he supposed. Thompson. thanking God it was still open.

for her sins. "The way he was driving. and with a questioning look on her face. Amen. though. the tears continuing down her cheeks. as he had confidence in his God! Perhaps. "Father. now!" Denise stood at the door of her house and watched Roger drive away. Lord. And if it should be that she's not ever really accepted the sacrifice of your son. though. I ask that you reveal to Denise how very much you love her! Heal her hurts. because I know you love him. with concern in his voice. And we had an argument about that. too. we agree according to Matthew 18:19 for your protection over Denise's boyfriend tonight. Don't you worry about your boyfriend. Reckless. "He said he was going to the county line to get more beer. it will be done by the Father which is in Heaven. with a doubtful look on her face. "Now." Denise answered quietly." Denise nodded her head. and he was driving too fast. and he left me out there on the side of the road!" Her words came between sobs. and we left. she allowed him to take it. Lord. Lord. Roger didn't worry about that. Apparently. everybody was sleeping. . the Lord was going to be able to work something really good out of this terrible circumstance! He reached out for her hand."I went with my boyfriend to a graduation party here in town. In Jesus' name. He bowed his head. and bless her. and he had too much to drink. that she may be adopted into the family of God. "And Father. I pray that she will be drawn by your Holy Spirit to do so. before your parents get really do get worried. Jesus." He immediately loosed her hands. maybe even kill himself!" "Do you mind if I pray for him? Will you agree with me. just as I have been. Surround him with your angels. Roger thought. as she related the story. and started the car. and there was a big fight at the party. The porch light was on. I'm afraid he'll wreck his car. I'd better get you home. Reveal your love to him. He's in the Lord's hands. and bring him home safely. according to Matthew 18:19? It says that if any two agree as touching anything on earth. "Where do you think he is now?" questioned Roger.

Glancing over to Jon's driveway. she thought of Mr. she jumped out of bed. With a heavy sigh. or was it as Mom had said in the past. Was he right? Was there really a God? Could you really ask for things like protection. Denise thought. Then.. and answer that prayer. Chapter 9 Denise awakened. There it was! Jons' car was at home. Thompson. she allowed the things Roger had said to roll over and over in her mind. she would try to sort it out tomorrow. Denise realized. and silently undressed. suprised that Mom had not awakened her to get started with her chores. feeling so glad to be home. drowsily. But so much had happened since then! The birds chirped loudly outside her window and she could hear the sounds of Mom busying around in the kitchen. Everything looked the same as when she had left to go to the graduation services. she noted his car was still not there. she unlocked the door. And still she hadn't resolved the questions inside her head. Safe at last. Well. But she . and climbed into her big. that after a day like yesterday. all in one piece too! Relieved. and rushed to her window. the washer and dryer going. and the sound of cartoons on the living room television. DECISIONS. "Probably just coincidence. she meditated on the things she had heard and experienced. prayer. and really put your trust in it? Denise was aware of a great tiredness from the strain and anxiety of the whole day. soft bed. with full realization of all that had happened last night. Did God really hear. and looked around her room. Hardly knowing what to make of it all. lazily. As she quickly. and silently crept in. She must have slept quite late.. Rogers'. It was bright from the curtain filtered sunlight. Amazing. it seemed to be just another Saturday morning. and a night like last night." How could anyone know? Denise wondered. she decided.

bragging about something that never happened! That had to be it! Denise put on her robe and house slippers. Did you and Jon have a good time last night? You were sleeping restlessly when I looked in on you this morning. Of course. "Good morning. Jon would never have acted like that. things would never be the same. Denise reasoned to herself. I didn't have the heart to wake you up since you were out late last night. that was her! But was she the one who had been doing the bragging? Or the one listening? Denise couldn't be sure. the party was. Of course. Mom was mixing something in a large bowl. yeah. now that the celebrating was over.or was he? Who was she anyway? Quietly. Denise got out of bed again. she found Jon's class pictures.was so glad Jon was safe. But what about that girl with the beige slippers? The redhead? Could there have been any truth in what she had overheard? Surely not! Jon just wasn't that type . thats what it was . brushed through her hair and headed to the kitchen." "Uh. "Morning.just an envious girl. she reasoned. she just didn't want anyone spreading rumors." Doris looked up." Denise smiled. and the coyotes howling! And the fear that had overtaken her as she realized the approaching vehicle was not Jons'! But. wondering what Mom would say if she knew all the details! "Thanks for letting me sleep late. that wasn't really Jon! Not her Jon! That was all that beer he had drank. How could she ever trust Jon again. somehow." But there was no reason for her to . anyway. uh. out there all alone. since she didn't get close enough at the party to hear her voice. looking away. after last night. and in the darkness! She remembered the desolation she had felt. in the middle of nowhere. she'd have to find out. Not that she didn't trust Jon.Jessie Arnold. real interesting. and found her yearbook. with the lightening flashing. Yes. after the way he had left her stranded. Well. Mom. she decided. if he hadn't been drunk! But. Denise poured a glass of milk and sat down at the table. and after a few moments located the girl's picture. she wouldn't have to worry about that anymore. Thumbing throught the pages. Denise concluded. or talked to her that way. Denise.

I was really worried about you when I woke up this morning. How did you get home?" He sounded very repentant. How about you?" she asked casually. directing her quiet voice into the receiver. but said nothing about it. Denise. which was very unusual for him! But. at least for now. huh!" Jon said. without the emotional turmoil she was feeling inside. I don't remember too much about what happened last night. Denise thought sarcastically." "Sure. But I think I treated you pretty bad. He was real nice to me. I'm glad you did. gratefully. Then seriously. she decided." Denise said into the mouthpiece. Just play it cool. but she dared not let him know. She loved him too much! And he had suffered enough already. Well. unsure of himself. "Well. "Well. "It was OK." There was no use in making Jon feel worse by telling him how upset and frightened she had been. I've got a really bad headache. sounding very humble. for once. "Its Jo-on". she made it through that. "Uh. It was late in the afternoon when the phone rang. then handed it to Denise. she cupped her hand around her mouth. Denise. To prevent the information reaching Mom or Toads' ears. since it had all worked out alright. Todd said teasingly. "Hi. she thought. she knew he wasn't really like that monster she had been with last night. trying to make light of the situation.?" Jon asked. and now that I know you're . But.know. Denise hastily took the phone. She had been anxious to hear from him. My Sunday School teacher picked me up and brought me home. "Hello.K. Todd answered the call. I'm fine. but I guess that's from too much celebratin*. Denise noticed that Mom gave her a strange look after her reply. Denise thought. Are you O. I'm not feeling too good. Mom and Dad trusted Jon. Denise decided. Her heart was racing. right now. she told herself. and there was no reason to spoil it! Especially. "I wasn't sure you would even accept a call from me after last night.

It gets really boring going places by myself or with Angela and some of the other girls. She remembered a scripture she had learned once in Vacation Bible School. "What have you been up to? Did you and Jon go to the graduation party? I'll bet you had fun! I can't wait to go to Mark's graduation party next year. sure. thinking Nancy would never have let Mark off the hook that easily. she had had little time for her other friends. out at Gloria Benson's house. That could be something to look forward to. You know. I'd never be able to forgive myself. no. Having been so busy with Jon the last few weeks.K. what about you and Mark? Having problems?" "Oh. Bye. Haven't been out of bed very long. she decided to give Nancy a call. and then again for the fall. love could take care of anything. you know. if you're sure you're OK. you know. Completing her assigned tasks. What was she going to do while he was gone? It sure looked like it was going to be a boring summer.O. happily. alright?" "Sure. "Nancy! This is Denise. when he was feeling better. we've been seeing each other nearly six . I'm gonna see what I can do for my head." Nancy replied.. Jon would soon be going off to college for the summer. the sun was starting to shine bright. We went to the other party. a pleasant sight after all the rain and storms they had been having. and all hours. Jon would call later. stifling a yawn. Jon. she thought. "Love covers a multitude of sins. as she sorted her feelings. if we're still seeing each other by then. and he would make up for last night and everything would be good again. Mark has to work at the gas station all the time. just the same old thing. But." Denise replied sweetly. as she went back to her chores. then I'll call you later." "Oh. Doesn't leave much time for fun. leaving a sharp crease in the leg of the pants. But. it seems. Nancy wasn't really in love with Mark! This was different. too. she thought. Denise let her mind wander as she did her weekend chores. she told herself. if anything had happened to you last night. She smiled as she put the iron to her jeans. It was summer. Were you busy?" "Oh. But then. she knew. It was wild! I'll have to tell you about it sometime! But. Perhaps this summer would give them time to get together and have some fun. That is. Of course." Yes. already. they had been busy.

" "Who knows. Don't you think?" "Hey. You know how guys are. the sooner he would get out. she began thinking about Angela. She's already planning the wedding. Would she and Jon be married. And he's already enrolled and everything. she decided. someday? After he finished college. And he is so funny!" "Yeah. anyway. Bye. It doesn't really make sense to me. he wasn't really wanting to go to college. Kevin is really cool. I've sure got a lot to catch up on. "Well. O. I didn't know he was going to summer school. I'll have to give her a call. Hanging up the phone. And Jon will be coming home every weekend. but that's what he's planning to do. . but his parents are really crazy about it. I really think the world of Mark. I'll talk to you later.K. I've really been dreading spending this summer alone. Nancy. and you know what a hunk he is! If he ever asked me out. I've really missed all y'all. lately. I'd hate to see him hurt.months. perhaps? Denise Rivers. I'll bet she asks you to be a bridesmaid or something. Todd's standing here having a fit to use the phone. Denise headed for her room. Putting a favorite cassette tape in the stereo. But. so he decided the sooner he went. I think he really loves you. she let her mind go even further to thoughts of her wedding day. but I didn't know it was serious. so I guess I'd better go. that's probably not likely to happen. I'm just daydreaming. have you heard that Angela's engaged to Rick Summers? They're supposed to get married next June. you know? Anyway. she could get used to it. Getting married! That would be so neat. I heard she was dating him." "Gosh. that'll be neat.? Call me sometime. and giving Todd a dirty look. But. but maybe it won't be so bad. That name had a strange ring to it. Wondering if she would indeed be asked to be in the wedding party. I know! Oh. huh. I know it would break Mark's heart if you broke up with him. How come? Why doesn't he wait for the fall semester?" Nancy questioned. since I've been so busy with Jon. but Kevin Dixon has been really friendly to me . But. And he's such a nice guy. But Jon's leaving for college in two weeks. It could happen. I don't know what's gonna happen. lately. so we'll have plenty of time to catch up then. Oh. I'd just have to go. now.

"Surprise!" shouted the group of her friends and family. it was a wonderful treat to have all her friends over for the fun! Jon had returned from college for the weekend and now Denise realized that. but he was so handsome when he felt proud of himself. and of course. a little cocky she thought. so many tests. His whole future depended on it! The cake and punch were delicious. Denise smiled. Caught off guard. as well as beautiful. It sounded simple enough. and Denise lavished praise on her mom and Vickie. Jon's mother. . he had to make good in school. but actually it had only been two weeks. of course. he had told her. Denise was most shocked when Dad walked in the room and handed her a set of car keys. and came home every chance he got. it hadn't panned out that way. and he just couldn't study at home. He had been very sweet about it all. Denise just stood there looking around as everyone was talking. blowing party whistles. he had won. laughing. but handsome! They walked up to the porch and Jon held the door open for her. not knowing she was just next door. but. It seemed months since he had been home last.SUMMER'S CHANGES Chapter 10 Jon assisted Denise out of his car. She had missed Jon so much. of course. How had they pulled this off without her getting suspicious? But. Mom would have planned the party so he could be here. but. and acting silly! A surprise birthday party! She had not expected this as her birthday was not until Monday. thinking he might not have if she hadn't slacked off a few times deliberately. when Jon had told her he would be home from school every weekend. but she was very excited. for a job well done! But of all the surprises. He had so much homework. They had just finished a wild game of tennis at the Country Club.

shouting friends and family. It was just darling! "It's second-hand. and seeing her joy reflected in them. He took her in his arms. and it'll get good gas mileage too. as she had each time he had left. Dad! I love it!" Denise shouted as she walked around her new car. and at Nancy's suggestion that they do volunteer work together. after she returned from cheer. but it's as good as new. Denise stood. got in his car and drove off. Her folks were absolutely the greatest. followed by a procession of laughing. she again was saying goodbye to Jon. gently touching the shiny finish. giving him a big hug too. thank you Mom. and throwing kisses in his direction. trying to restrain her tears. if I possibly can. "Oh. she thought to herself. OK? And I'll be back Friday night. Denise had signed up as volunteer at the local hospital to avoid idle time while Jon was away. waving. She had learned to feel kind of "at home" at the hospital when Dad was there. . then released her. She was so proud of it. But the best part was looking into those big." Jon was saying with much emotion. brown eyes of Jon's. kissed her tenderly. Jon was standing nearby and she reached for him. Denise had jumped at the chance." Dad pointed out."Now that you're sixteen and can get your unrestricted drivers license we figured you might could use a car! Besides your Mother is tired of accompanying you back and forth to the hospital. then went to Mom and gave her a big hug and kissed her cheek. I miss you so much when I'm gone.leading camp. All she could do now was wait for his call. She was so happy! All was right with her world. "I'll call you tonight when I get back to the campus. and his family. Denise hugged him hard as tears filled her eyes. But late Sunday afternoon. waving to her. Running out the front door. Denise spotted a metallic lavender Volkswagon convertible with a large white bow on the hood." Dad laughed as he hugged his ecstatic daughter.

" "Hello. And I'm all for it! I can use the rest too! " "We're planning on leaving the last week in July. Just then the phone rang. It really seems to make some of the patients feel better!" "Well. The next morning Denise drove her new car to the hospital. Its up to you whether or not you want to go along. so we'd be back just before school starts.But that night after supper. relaxing one. long. We're thinking about touring Europe. Everybody was full of excitement. I've been waiting for you to call. That's only a couple of weeks off. What took you so long?" Denise quizzed. and we'd be gone about a month. "But the doctor suggested that Dad have a vacation. "But I really enjoy doing it. and Denise jumped to get it." Denise said thoughtfully. before I go back to work at the office. It appeared that the young woman had been traveling . He looked at Denise. I'll see what I can come up with. But. an extended vacation. "Your Mom and I have been talking about taking a trip. you can. She was so proud to have her own car! Denise met Nancy and some of the other volunteers and nurses in the locker room at the hospital . Dad. before he returns to the stress of daily work. Dad. you know. and I'm doing volunteer work at the hospital. Oh. if you decide not to go. a good. There's a discount available now through a travel agency. she could go right after work. You can stay with your grandparents. jokingly. I'm sure. "OK." Tom explained. I guess I could get out of it if I tried. either of you or both. Of course." Todd said. Of course. a victim of an apparent one car accident. Dad approached Denise and Todd with an unexpected proposal. she would have to go take her driving test to make it all legal. sure it would be Jon's call. "Just think about it and make up your own minds. elated at no longer having to be accompanied by an adult driver. if you want to go." Doris spoke up. then at Todd. What do you two think about it? Do you want to go?" "Gosh. "What about Little League? I made it to the All Star playoffs! I can't miss my games!" "Yeah. Jon. as the night nurses were telling the day crew about a new patient that had been admitted to ICU early this morning.

"Bet she went to sleep while she was driving. was saying earlier that the nurse on duty told her it could be pretty serious. feeling deep sympathy for the woman and her unknowing fami1y. as the car was almost under a large culvert near a seldom traveled highway. no one had found any identification. seeing Denise was being dramatic. Everyone was always so busy. "They said the car was so badly smashed front and back. visit briefly. "What?" Nancy replied. not to know would be much worse. Nancy and Denise began making their way to the nurses' station to check the patient list.) They spoke cordially to the nurses. aides and housekeepers as they passed them in the hall." Nancy surmised. Think I should?" "Do I think you should go to Europe? Are you crazy? You'd have to be . nothing! But. they couldn't find a trace of identification. As the elevator came to a halt on the fourth floor of the old hospial. maybe she'll come to and tell us who she is. "Guess what!" Denises* mind returned to last night's discussion. well. "Well. head injuries and a fractured leg. suffering from blood loss. but they're hopeful. the aide on the second floor. license plates. No one knew how long she had been injured before being spotted by another traveler. But. you could go in. remembering the anxiety her family had experienced when Dad was sick." "Yeah. so she was admitted to ICU as Jane Doe. "Do they think she'll pull through?" Denise asked curiously. Sheila.alone when the wreck happened. (With some patients. but. She continued to remain unconscious. but some were not to be disturbed." Denise said. no wallet. I'm sure they'll keep looking. The rescuer had called the ambulance. offer a magazine and run errands. "I have a chance to tour Europe this summer if I want to go. especially in the mornings. "Its awful that they can't let her family know about the accident!" Denise said.

that's a big part of it! But I think I'd really miss my volunteer work. "Well. Nancy began. still knowing no more than they did at the first! But. "So"." They were waiting at the nurses* station for the lists. They had talked that scene over and over and had discussed every possible angle. I'll bet. and he went pretty soon after graduation. They got some kind of special deal through a local travel agency. anyway. the doctor suggested Dad take a long vacation before returning to work so Mom and Dad decided to go to Europe. and I'm doing the volunteer work and--" "And you can't stand to think about being away from Jon for a whole month! That's what's bothering you. Jon has been a perfect angel. I don't know. I'll talk to Jon about it this weekend. yeah. not yet! Guess I'll just have to ask Jon about it sometime.out of your mind to pass up a chance like that! Who's going? Give me the details! Can I go. too?" Nancy said excitedly. Besides. I can stay with either of my grandparents if I decide not to go. "did you ever find out anything more about that red-head with the beige pumps?" Denise laughed. I just haven't decided yet. But. I'm not really even concerned about it anymore. Denise had avoided the subject of what had happened graduation night. Of course. but I haven't decided yet what I'm gonna do. "Well. I'll have to quit when school starts anyway. I just love that necklace he gave you for your birthday." Nancy reminded her. I do think it'll be good for Mom and Dad to get away. "Well. Of course. Expensive. But Todd's in Little League with All Star playoffs coming up soon. "I know. she had forgiven Jon. I'm sure that he cares about me! Everytime we're together he proves it to me!" Denise said smuggly. "No. though." "Yeah. too. but everyone was busy right now. She couldn't confide in anybody about that. but I don't know any better way. and they'll be gone about a month and get back just before school starts. there's no absolute quarantee I'd get the truth." . but you haven't seen much of him since he went off to college. knowingly. isn't it?" asked Nancy.

handed them a list each and they went separate directions. too! She didn't know of another person in town who had one like it." "Thanks. It sounded like there was just the slightest improvement in the poor lady's condition. and not having her family here or anything. you could finish setting the table if you're not too tired. as she walked down the hall to #1 on the list. at least she could do it in her new car. Mom?" "Well. How was your day at the hospital?" Doris asked . joyful that she had passed the driving test without difficulty. I really appreciate it!" Denise could go her way now. sick people. Her heart swelled with pride. "Can you give me any information about the woman brought in early this morning? I feel so sorry for her. poor guy! Boy. but she hasn't worsened. pushed out of the way. but no longer is critical. Time to get my mind back on these poor. She walked back to the elevator on her way to the ICU nurses' station. being just a Jane Doe. I was just curious because I know he can't really afford much on his allowance and with all his college expenses. She thought about Jon. Denise headed home a little while later in her little car. not that it would matter if it wasn't. did she miss him! Doris was just finishing preparations for supper as Denise walked in. She still had to take that drivers' test. Denise thought. because Jon gave it to me. "I can tell you that she is still listed in serious condition. drat it! But. The hours passed quickly and Denise gathered her things to leave." the nurse said. I'd still love it. and that particular car."You better believe it! I looked in an exclusive catalog from the store where they do a lot of shopping the other day. "I understand. all right. and thankfulness that Mom and Dad had given her a car." Denise explained. But the necklace was in there. She wanted to find out about her condition before she left. She hasn't yet regained consciousness. "Need me for anything. you know. and everything. That made it really special! Oh! Denise remembered the early morning accident victim. leaving the magazine cart in the hall. and it's worth a pretty penny!" A nurse appeared in front of them. He would probably be in his room right now studying for a test or preparing a thesis.

and that she was so pleased at how she was growing into a fine. caring young lady. you know. If I go. Mom. and I can just imagine how tired I'd be. But you know how Mother and Dad are so set in their ways. Doris understood and voiced similiar feelings of sympathy for the woman. you couldn't please everybody all the time. especially the people she was close to.with interest. it wouldn't be any problem to get in to the hospital. What do you think?" "Well. Some of her friends counted that a fault. Of course. but everytime we got together the last few years they always started preaching to me. Denise. Denise told her Mom all about the Jane Doe accident with deep feeling. and I always loved visiting out at the farm. the Bible is a very." Denise explained. Do you believe the Bible is true?" Denise asked hesitantly. besides having to give up the work at the hospital a month early. I've been doing a lot of thinking about that trip to Europe." "Mom. because there probably wouldn't be time when I got back. and there are a lot of . I know they'd love to see you! They've always been very fond of you and Todd. I've only been there a short time anyway. but she just couldn't feel right about that way of thinking. since you're their only grandchildren. only having a week or less before starting back to school! And I know I'd miss Jon terribly while I was gone. They said you shouldn't care what people thought. She really did love to please people. I'd have to get my school clothes and supplies all ready before I left. Denise glowed from the inside out. and I'll have cheerleading practices just as soon as school starts back. "You know. "Maybe you can handle it. She didn't want to open any old wounds. but I'm thinking it's been a long time since I visited Nana and Papa. but it just felt good when it happened. but if you couldn't ask your own Mom. who could you ask? "Well. Doris explained to Denise how proud she was of her. "Not for sure. have you decided not to go?" Mom queried. Now that I have my car. We haven't seen much of them in quite a while. very old book. but I can't. I miss them a lot myself. I thought I might go out and visit them after supper tonight just to feel it out. You know how fanatical they are!" Doris replied. there are some things about that I don't understand. "So.

seek with the earth. said in Sunday School. and if he lies. causing long shadows from the trees to appear. Mr. looks to me like he'd make some drastic changes. trying to figure it all out. I was just wondering. then soften to nothingness on the narrow dirt road to the farm. and supper was ready. Denise. if he was really a loving God? Look at all the misery in the world today! If God really loved the world as the Bible says. But. as Mom used to say. Denise thought as she looked out the dining room window. He believes that you have to believe all of it. What made you ask about this anyway?" "Oh. that says the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Todd and Dad should be back from their little shopping trip any minute. Why haven't I done this before. written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit or something like that. comfortably . put on some jogging shoes and slouch socks. she concluded. Now. I mean. you know. She might just spend the night. He told us that the Bible says. then God's a liar. THE FARM Chapter 11 The late evening sun appeared to be playing hide-and. like prophecies. then the whole book is a lie! Anyway. she thought. I have alot of questions. that feels better! She smiled to herself. Better give Nana a call and see for sure if it was all right to come out right after supper. The table was all set." Denise trailed off.really wise sayings in there. He says if any of it isn't true. just something Roger. we read the verse together. I was certainly raised to believe the Bible was true. you know. "every jot and tittle" of it. well. its' not important. knowing Mom and Dad wouldn't mind. I don't know that I'm right about it Denise. actually. Who could understand it all! What kind of God would threaten you with burning in hell. Thompson. What was keeping them? She ran up to change clothes while she was waiting. I have a lot of problems with some of the things in there. Denise wondered? Just hadn't thought about it before. still thinking about their discussion. Now. or none of it. How could one know what was right? Denise changed into a pair of comfortable shorts with a loose-fitting knit shirt.

and keys. Nana. standing at the door. I'm so glad you came to visit with us.seated in the still "new" little convertible. "I have to work . The stereo was playing a tender love song and Denise began to sing along. as she watched a small cottontail rabbit scampering across the road not far ahead. softly curled hair. especially with the low. So different from the house in town or at the hospital. The farm on which her grandparents lived wasn't far from home. were pushed into the background. It looked so pretty. that's it! We'll have to have a picnic out here. It's just so peaceful out here. the questions she dared not actually face. She could go horseback riding. and decided maybe just a long brisk walk would be even better! But. The many questions that had occupied her mind gently subsided. but driving on the narrow dirt roads gave one a lot of time to relax and think pleasant thoughts. relaxed as the breeze combed through her long. What a perfect place for an afternoon picnic! Yes. and gallop across the fields and pastures or visit the great tank not far from the house. "Oh. honey. as if it were a painting done by a master artist. Denise noticed a pickup truck in the front drive. a familiar looking truck. It seemed to make one feel more positive about life. and fish for catfish! It had been a long time since she had tried fishing. Many fond memories returned to her mind. but not Papa's. Denise thought. with a sudden excess of energy. called out to her as she came near the long white porch. making Denise feel childish and giddy. she thought. Denise realized. she noticed a lightly wooded area that she recognized as the beginning of Papa's farm. She knew he would love them. fading sun. she thought warmly how little the place had changed since her childhood when she had often visited here." Denise hugged her grandmother in the doorway. Then she remembered the tangles the line usually wound up in. So whose was it? Probably just a neighbor she had seen in town. We've missed you and Todd so much. purse. Maybe it would be good to make this drive often. she concluded as she pulled to a stop behind it. me and Jon. Looking around the place as she gathered her overnight bag. soon! He could meet Nana and Papa. Driving up to the small white frame house. To her left. Denise knew Nana and Papa always parked at the back of the house. And I'm glad you came before dark.

A flush crept up into her cheeks at the memory of that awful night. evidently. looking directly into her brilliant. "Well." Denise lowered her gaze with embarassment. and over to the table where. little granddaughter!" Papa called proudly.tomorrow and I wanted all the time I could get to visit with you two. Was this guilt she was feeling? And why should she feel guilty? "How about a glass of milk. But. "Hello. it's just that I'm doing volunteer work at the hospital all week. with him away so much. and she still hadn't been forced to go. Denise. "Roger! Here's my pretty. Roger." Papa stepped around the corner from the kitchen and spied his granddaughter. and my boyfriend is at college and only comes down on weekends. so I left right after supper. Don't you know you're supposed to come look in on the old folks once in a while?" Papa laughingly scolded her as he hugged Denise tight. sky blue eyes. standing at the refrigerator in readiness. It had been really neat. lately. at least." Nana felt so soft and warm. all had been visiting over cups of coffee. Denise thought. until Roger mentioned it. Everything OK?" "Yeah. to have the whole Sunday to goof off. . "Where*s Papa? I haven't seen you two in so long." Denise answered. realizing she should have known that truck immediately. I wasn't aware of how much I've missed you until this afternoon. there had been opportunities for her to attend Church. Denise?" Nana asked. looking around. girl. It was amazing that Mom and Dad finally had got off her case about going to Church all the time. since she had not long ago ridden in it. Denise decided they had considered how little time she had with Jon. when Jon couldn't make it down. fine. searching anxiously for a change of subject. "I've been missing you in Sunday School. as he manuevered Denise into the kitchen. too. lately. as they turned to walk into the living room. I didn't recognize your truck out there. there she is! Where have you been keeping yourself. How are you?" Roger asked politely. "Oh.

Denise noticed the changes since she last had really looked at Nana and Papa. her mind again began to wander. His shoulders were now slightly stooped. She had never really looked at him . Stylishly cut. turning to Papa seated at her left. and the overhead light danced on his hair with the movement of his head. and his skin now was a leathery brown with pleasant. laugh lines. Papa? I was trying to remember how long it's been since I've gone fishing. with the brown specks on the green background. more grandmotherly. long. now. Why had she never noticed Roger's hazel eyes. Papa and Roger had somehow gotten on the subject of cows. fitted perfectly with his small. it perfectly complimented his boyish oval face. She looked slightly more rounded than she remembered. as her attention returned to the conversation. Denise thought to herself. Papa seemed to have changed the least. too old to be rocked probably. Denise thought. and brushed away from his face. His straight. Denise remembered how comfortable her lap had been as Nana had rocked her as a young child. but very attractive smile. As she listened to them. amid the laughter. Denise accepted the offer.Grateful for a new topic. or the mysteriously long. Nana's hair was mostly gray. Such a dear man. good-naturedly arguing about the quality of the different breeds of cattle. that he was always prone to exaggerate! Denise and Roger joined in the fun and laughed as the large hands came somewhat closer together at the demand for truth! During the visit. white teeth. where it was formerly a salt and pepper color. "Have you been fishing lately. and Nana reminded him. dark eyelashes that looked as though they should belong to a girl? His hair was a medium brown with red highlights. And the muscles in his arms! They were accentuated by the T-shirt he wore. laughingly. Denise realized. and he was perhaps thinner than she remembered. A long time I know. (which did not remind you of braces). and progressed to his latest catches." Papa proceeded to tell about some of the fishing he and Denise had done when she was young. Denise realized she had never seen him in casual clothes before. but rocked nonetheless. His hair had been white for years. always demonstrating the size of the fish with his hands spread apart. while he was deep in conversation.

"Yeah." "The Bible says that where there is strife and confusion. I hope so anyway. but maybe we can get along until the season's over." Roger added. of course. Roger?" Papa challenged. I believe we can trust him to take care of it." Roger answered with a twinkle in his eyes. there is every evil work. and she's good at the moves and all. but he couldn't compare with Jon! Besides." Nana said. again. Denise. the Lord can handle this girl. especially when there's someone like Jon around! Roger was good-looking. don't you. But strife between friends is not God's will. but the head cheerleader this year. "You know. and if we ask. don't you think. She's pretty nice. We learned a lot of new routines. "I sure do. the Lord said to ask and receive. So you know that God is not pleased with that. aren't you?" Denise asked laughingly. Now that she's Head though. but last year wasn't so bad. You know. or to pray for things that are out of line with the will of God. I haven't found a problem too simple or too big for Him to handle. "I read in the paper that you made cheerleader. "You wouldn't really pray about a thing like that. "You're kidding me. interrupting her train of thought.before! Well. yes. . Oh. "You bet child!" Papa answered enthusiastically. Charlie. it could be a real pain!" Denise confided. Joyce. that's Mike Peterson's daughter isn't it?" "Yeah. you know Joyce Peterson. and probably a fanatic at that. and we already went to camp right after school was out. "Sounds like maybe we need to pray about that." Denise responded doubtfully. that our joy may be full! We have to be careful not to ask selfishly. he was too old for her. Denise admitted to herself. She's always been that way of course. who ever pays attention to their Sunday School teacher anyway. that's her. but I can't stand the way she tries to take over everything. would you?" A curious look came into her eyes as she was seriously trying to understand this thing. she's really bossy! I don't know how it's gonna work out. teasingly.

"You sound really serious about that. Goodnight Papa. as if she hated to see him go. he'd better get home. Roger announced since it was getting late and they all had to get up early tomorrow morning. in Jesus name. still not convinced they all weren't just 'pulling her leg*. too. Something quickened within Denise.too. she bowed her head as Roger prayed a brief prayer asking that God intervene in the situation and bring peace and joy into the relationship instead of the strife that seemed inevitable. Wishing she could be sure. and the smile about his lips. a curious light remaining in her eyes." Papa reassured her with a twinkle still in his eye." Looking up. Papa followed behind her in the little hall. and our joy be full. we are. without being a fanatic." he said as he took her hand unoffensively. "That You may be glorified. "He said that whatsoever we ask believing shall be done for us. the Lord is right here with us. How could he be so sure about these things. Denise made her way to the guest bedroom for the night. but quickly rejecting that feeling. Soon after Roger left. Amen. that left still a small doubt as to his sincerity. Nana. "According to Matthew 18:20." she replied hesitantly. she wondered." Denise said as she turned and hugged Papa at the door of her bedroom. feeling the cool breeze from the east window. turning out the lights as they went." Papa said sweetly as he released his granddaughter. refusing to hold his gaze. so enjoy it Denise. open in the room. Denise. "The Lord gives his beloved sleep.Nana sat quietly listening. . but nodded in agreement as Denise looked from one to the other incredulously. Roger took it from there. "You too. and Nana and Papa seemed convinced. "Sleep well." Nana called from the master bedroom. See you bright and early in the morning. Is it OK if we just pray right now?" Denise nodded. she thanked him again. closing with. "Am I His beloved?" Denise asked herself quietly in the darkness of the night. "Oh.

Quickly bowing her head and slowly lowering her fork. Hurriedly. proceeding with her overnight bag to get ready for the day. Denise decided. "Denise! Arise. a peacefulness to the atmosphere. a rooster was crowing almost continuously. Only a shower could really get her going first thing in the morning. it lended a unity. Denise layed still for a moment enjoying the almost too cool early morning breeze. Oops! She had almost taken her first bite as she heard Papa start to pray. At least her grandparents were consistant! "Thanks. The smell of sausage. and birds were singing merrily nearby. and maple syrup drifted down the hall to stimulate her senses. waffles. followed by Papa's mellow voice calling. probably in the old oak tree beside the window. Not far away. she concluded. she quickly drifted off. JANE DOE Chapter 12 Denise awakened to a knock on her door." Denise replied sleepily. restful sounds. breakfast is almost ready.Pulling up the cover and making herself comfortable on the soft cotton mattress of the bed. Whether it helped anything else or not. But. she made her way to the source of the delightful scents. after all. Where had she heard that before? In Sunday School or Church probably. peacefully to sleep. she thought. And this would probably be another busy day at the hospital. Still. Denise thought. shine for thy light is come! What a strange way to wake up. I'll be up in a minute. The sounds of country life! Peaceful. she reminded herself of the long-forgotten custom of prayer before meals. Papa. And off in the distance she heard the sounds of a cow mooing. she climbed out of bed. As quickly as possible. . this was the only house that she knew that still practiced the tradition. it was kind of pleasant. as she stretched her limbs to awaken her still restful body. with a smile. "Better hurry." he said at the closed door. Denise decided.

really. red-brick hospital. "Have they found out who she is yet? Is she still unconscious?" Breathlessly. The doctor can't find a medical reason for her coma. She's still comatose." "Do you think maybe I could see her? I wouldn't disturb anyone. "You're a volunteer here. really. Her left leg had a compound fracture but there was no problem with the reduction. but the police are checking all the missing persons reports to match her description.But with hasty. the deep interest. wondering as she went. what do you think that means?" asked Denise.. immediate family only. she doesn't have anybody but us to be concerned about her.. and concern shining in her eyes. But her condition appears stable. It was a different nurse than the one who had helped her before. signed in and headed for ICU. Surely. "Well. Who knows? The injuries to her head appear superficial. Minor." Denise was getting her hopes up. perhaps. but her EEG. she soon was driving off to start her day at the hospital. Arriving at the old style. since nobody knows who she is. understanding her reluctance. Her vital signs were stablized soon after she was brought in. Denise hastily put her things away. she managed to get all these questions out. you know?" Her blue eyes were begging the nurse to understand her concern.. aware of the ICU visiting rules. aren't you?" the nurse asked. the brain wave test. we still don't know who she is." "So. about the Jane Doe patient. "Well. the knowledge of what happened to her. they'll have a clue soon. I mean." Denise said. loving good-byes. wanting to know all she could about the patient's situation. shows her brain is still very active.and . "You see. hesitant to give out confidential information. along with the nerve to ask the question. But. It would just help if I could see the woman that I've been so concerned about. So I just feel like somebody should be interested. the doctor thinks perhaps the accident was so terrifying that she is subconsciously blocking out the pain. since the patient's family wasn't here. "Yeah. "Hi! Can you give me the latest information on the Jane Doe patient?" Denise asked the nurse in charge. setting of the fracture.

the nurse seemed really nice, but conscientious. "Well. I can't see that it would hurt anything, for just a minute, you understand." The nurse turned to the inner door, and motioned Denise to follow her.She led Denise to the third cubicle on the left. So this is Jane Doe, Denise thought, observing the young- looking woman. She had several small dressings on her face. The heart monitor above her was registering frequent, but regular beeps. An IV was hooked to her left hand. Her left leg was in a cast suspended in air by a traction set-up. She looked as though she was sleeping soundly. Her short blonde hair was brushed away from her face, which looked awfully pale, Denise thought, nearly as white as the sheets. Wondering who this could be, what her real name was, what her life had been like. if she had a family, where she lived and where she had been going, Denise followed quietly after the nurse back to the nurses* station. "She is so pretty, even with the bandages. How old would you guess her to be?" Denise questioned curiously. "I don't know, perhaps 25, or maybe older. It's hard to say. But I'll bet when the dressings are off, and the swelling has gone down, you know, after the wounds have healed, she'll be one beautiful lady." "Thanks for letting me go in, I really do appreciate it. I feel much better about her now, and I'm sure she'll 'come around' anytime now." "The doctor said that if she continues stable, he'll probably put her in a private room soon, maybe tomorrow. You may want to visit her again, huh?" The nurse looked at Denise with knowing eyes. "Yes, I sure would. I want to see her get through this. I'd like to get to know her, although I'm not really sure just why," Denise said. Thanking her again, she turned to go to her duties, noticing that according to the clock over the nurses' station, she'd better hurry! Sitting around the supper table, back at home that night, she joined in pleasant conversation with Dad, Mom and Todd. Tom had an appointment with the doctor again that day, and was bragging to his family about the good report.

"He said I was just about as "fit as a fiddle", just to keep up the good work, take my medication regularly, walk daily and avoid stress. He just doesn't realize how badly I want to get back to work. This is so boring just sitting at home all the time, and I know Danny needs the help." "Well, after our vacation you can go back to work, and good riddance!" said Doris jokingly. It hadn't been easy for Mom, Denise realized, with Dad underfoot these last few weeks, and it probably would be a relief when her life could return to normal. "Oh, yeah. About the vacation. I had a really cool time out at Nana and Papa's last night. I've about decided to just stay with them while you two "tear up" Europe. Would you be terribly disappointed if I don't go?" Denise blurted out. "Well, if you're sure that's what you want to do," Dad said, glancing at Doris briefly. "Of course, if you don't want to go, Grandma and Grandpa Whitaker would love to have you stay with them." "I know," Denise said, hesitantly. She did love Dad's folks an awful lot. In fact, they came over quite a bit, and the family often visited over there. "But, they live in town, and I'm really looking forward to spending time out on the farm. Besides, I hardly ever see Nana and Papa. Well, I see them at church sometimes, but hardly ever visit with them." "How about Denise staying with Nana and Papa, and I could stay with Grandma and Grandpa Whitaker? That way I'd be close for the games and stuff! I really don't want to miss those All Star games!" Todd said excitedly. "I know. Son, and I'm sure gonna hate missing your games, too. If we could plan it any other way, we would. I want you to know that," Tom explained. "Well, it sounds like we're gonna get a second honeymoon, huh, Tom?" Doris said laughingly. "Well, I don't know about that!" Tom teased.

So it's settled, Denise thought. This way I won't miss Jon when he comes, I can continue work at the hospital, keep up with Jane Doe, and enjoy farm life with Nana and Papa. Tired from the long day, Denise decided to turn in early. She gave Mom and Dad a hug and started for her room. The phone began to ring. Todd ran to answer the phone, and disappointed, called to Denise. Sure it was Jon, she hurried over, but it wasn't him, she four out, as Amanda's little-girl voice came over the line. "Neese, what you doing?" Denise*s heart warmed at the sweet little voice. She did love this little girl, and hadn*t had much time with her lately. She talked with her briefly, amazed that she had called, until Vickie took the phone, explaining she was just teaching Amanda to use the phone in case of emergencies. They talked briefly, then Denise again started for bed. Man, did her legs ache! Soon, she was sleeping soundly, dreaming of Jon beside her in the cool afternoon sunlight, sitting on the grass, shaded by the big trees in the pasture at Nana and Papa's farm.

THE CODE
Chapter 13

What a day! Denise thought, as she hurried to the elevator. It was already past time to check the patients' mail and deliver it. There was always a ton of cards and "Get Well" messages left at the front desk every morning for the patients. And here it was, almost time for lunch break. So much had happened! The elevator door opened, and Denise hastily stepped inside. She squeezed in without noticing the apparent visitors. The day had started out just like any other, she remembered. She had looked in on the Jane Doe patient and found no changes. She was still unconscious, but stable enough, that she was now in a private room. Some of her bandages had disappeared, leaving only small wounds and bruises

lowering her eyes with a strange feeling of failure. knocking his Bible out of his hand. Roger. Are you hurt?" Roger looked deeply into her eyes. in room 206. as Denise tried to regain her lost composure." He pulled the sheet over the man's head gently. but I guess it was just his time to go.. "I'm so sorry. OK?" He was a very gentle. In came the 'code team'. someone had missed Jane Doe by now! Why hadn't someone reported her missing? Then she had begun her rounds. as usual. precise actions of the team. away from the crash cart that was being packed away. still no clue as to her identity. The tears began to flood over Denise's cheeks. . As she quickly stepped out. as they performed CPR on the patient. We thought we had him about fixed up." The doctor assured her. offering magazines. but. as she stooped to pick it up. "Y'all did good. she quickly pressed the emergency call button. eventually. kind man. Surely. But. Denise. "You did good. wiping away the tears as she stood up. and fell over! A panic had risen inside Denise as she watched. He turned. she ran straight into Roger.which appeared to be healing. She was very impressed. the patient suddenly moaned loudly. as the bell rang on the elevator. "No problem." Denise murmured. What's going on? Surely you're not that upset about running into me. But. and responsibly. spoke with compassion to her. as he. grabbed his chest. and seeing Denise standing in the corner. the doctor on duty dismissed the team. "Hi. But. and bumped Roger's head in the process. just for a minute. Denise thought. taking menu choices. "I can tell you acted quickly. Were you the one who called the code?" "Yes. horrified. and administered medications. had stooped to pick it up. out of their way. with no response. writing and mailing letters. too. She had watched the immediate.. and Denise stepped to a far corner. The ordeal seemed to take hours." Denise said sincerely. Don't get to feeling guilty about it. but you can't win 'em all. when everything seemed fine. saying sadly. this being the first 'code* she had ever witnessed. and the door opened.

and I just heard him kind of groan real loud. Denise followed suit. but 1'11 be alright. what's happened since I last saw you that has upset you so?" "Well. I was in a patient's room. and wash those tears away. now. I got up to pull a chair near his bed. he was dead!" Denise explained. "Well. "Now. Maybe I do need to take my break. 10:13 the Lord said He wouldn't suffer you. as the tears started coming again. "I called a code." Denise explained. and he asked me to write a letter for him. its just been a wild day. and-and. never!" "In I Cor. I only have a thirty minute break. We're never prepared to see someone die." Denise answered. its rough on anyone. but even they couldn't save him. huh? Well. "It's nearly time for my break. looking up into Roger's sympathetic eyes. "I just couldn't go through it again! I'll never forget this. and he grabbed his chest. choking back the tears. and gave thanks to God for their blessings."Oh. before I start seeing the patients again. Sorry to keep you. "I really do need to talk to someone. Denise. or permit you to be tempted above what you are able to handle. It was real scary. Maybe you'd better visit the ladies' room first." Roger said decidedly. I guess. I think maybe you need to talk about it. I think it reminds us of our own mortality. no matter what. Then picking up his fork. he asked. How about lunch? Do you have time?" Roger asked. I'll wait for you. don't you?" "Yeah. let me tell you." Denie responded. seated in a secluded area in the cafeteria with a delicious-looking meal sitting in front of each. It won't hurt anything. meekly. Roger. are we? Even if we don't know them. A few minutes later. Roger bowed his head humbly. " "Then let's go to the cafeteria. It's the first time I ever saw anyone die!" "Pretty rough on a young girl like you. but will with the . it's a long story. but I've got to deliver all the patients' mail first. and his head fell over with his eyes closed. anyway.

What actually happened to your patient. the way I've explained it?" Denise. "Then how do we give Satan that power? The power that makes us fear?" "Actually. man is a sprit. and that every promise in the Bible is true. then the death of this body is simply a matter of 'going home'. "You see. once we're saved. And our hope is. and if he is. The spirit of man lives forever." Roger commented. also make a way to escape. instead of having faith in the Lord. unless we give it to him. that he is saved by the blood of Jesus. if we've accepted the salvation that Jesus bought for us by going to the cross. not like we think of death. a glorified or heavenly body. You can resist that fear by faith in God. it happened so suddenly. just as our faith is permission for God to act. is simply that his spirit left his body. toying with her food. and emotion parts. who has a soul. He used to have the power of death. and God. God. will. And you can't live on this earth without a physical body. just like God is three parts. anyway. God." Denise said. the Son. then he will receive a new body. "You don't know what it was like. Does that make sense. . Does that help you to understand it better. I think I get a little bit of the picture. You know. Do you mean the real me will never die. that you may be able to bear it. and it has to flee from you. You just have to believe that the Bible is true. and he lives in a physical body. The man. doesn't really die. our enemy. And if we're a child of God. "And another thing that may help. but Jesus stripped him of that power. Well. is if you can understand that the man didn't actually die. or did I just confuse you?" "I don't understand it real well. Satan has no power over us. it's anywhere. a person is actually three parts. or the mind. essential for living in Heaven. studying Roger's hazel eyes responded hesitantly. and there was nothing I could do about it!" "I know that we can't avoid the presence of death. himself. Satan is our adversary. But the man is still very much alive." "But. the Father. just my body?" "That's right. and that it's all meant just for you.temptation. I can't stand to think about ever seeing anyone die again! I just couldn't handle it!" Denise persisted. in the spirit world. You see. like the one Jesus had after he was raised from the dead. but. the Holy Spirit. because a spirit is eternal. The temptation in a situation like this is to fear. the fear itself is permission for Satan to act. today.

they were listening to a radio program." Denise said. Roger. Denise wasn't really listening. I guess. Denise. looked at Denise with frustration. it's on the street. "I just don't know what to believe. glancing at his watch. a dread of visiting her patients. and Papa were relaxed in the living room." Roger continued. I've really got to get back to my job. at Nana and Papa's. and instead of watching T. Denise. There's nothing bad about death. "Can we talk about this later.. Then.everywhere! Not just in the hospital. She had made it through the day without any further trauma. and her body relaxed. 'Can you understand?" "Yes." Looking up to meet Roger's eyes. and in the movie theater. just letting the words of the speakers go in one ear and out the other. Chapter 14 After supper. anytime.V. thank . It can happen to anyone. OK?" she asked. for the first time. even in Church. I really needed to talk about it. rising from her chair. her mind continued full of unanswered questions. as her mind wandered to various things. I can. I really do. rising politely. as Denise usually did in the evenings. if you understand it. then.. As Denise returned to the front desk to pick up the mail. agreed. I do want to understand." "Well. hesitantly. "I do appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. Nana. How about if I come over later? Would that be OK?" "Yeah. when we have more time? You're staying out at the farm now while your parents are on vacation. and are ready for it. Well. and.. she asked sweetly. lowering her eyes. but I believe with the help of the Holy Spirit. It's really not hard. I can help you to believe and understand. QUESTIONS. It was a favorite of her grandparents. but thanks. but I'm not even sure I believe in a God and a devil. her meal only half eaten. I'll see you later." Denise said.

most people will quit anything they're doing to answer the phone. suddenly intent on hearing what was being said. rising up in her bed to answer the phone. if it would only work! Denise was beginning to be very excited at the prospect! "You know." Papa ." answered Papa. "Can you believe that?" "Well. and depressing! What was that? The speaker was saying something about a coma.just so sad. until she was fully awakened. Nana was a perceptive woman. and I believe she will come out of it. Denise thought. Nana and Papa looked at each other. you know. who knows? It might work. "Well." Papa said laughingly. "You know. child. she listened to the end of the program. Death was just. Nana and I have been praying for that lady.. Then. did I hear them saying something on the radio about coma patients? Did he say that sometimes a comatose patient may come out of a coma to answer a phone? Is that what you understood?" "That's what the man said. Denise tried to picture the scene. it would be so cool. even climb out of the bathtub!" "But. consulted with her grandparents. then. trying to clarify the subject.goodness. aren't you?" Nana asked. Oh." Nana stated. Amazed. I'm wondering if he was really serious about the coma stuff. and Jane Doe. "You're thinking of that 'Jane Doe' patient you told us about. Nodding her head. slowly responding. ever since you told us about her. Papa. "Nana. Do you think someone might really come out of a coma if they heard a phone ringing?" Denise asked sincerely. Denise sat up straight. he was making a point about how addicted we are to telephones. I'm sure the Lord's hand is upon her. But the scenes of that morning incident replayed itself through her head many times. The bedside phone ringing away in room 314. The Lord does answer prayer.. they again looked at Denise. Never was she able to figure anything that could have been done differently. to make sure her ears weren't playing tricks on her.

and you seem so at peace. you know. and he said. well. you know. Denise. Well. "HAve you ever been saved. or for the lusts of the flesh. "Why don't you get my Bible off the bar for me. we can know God's will for us and others by studying His Word. you know." Papa explained. looked out the window. she reminded herself! Greetings were exchanged as Roger came in and began to enter into conversation with the family." Papa said hopefully. Denise. 'ask and you shall receive'. glancing frequently at Denise. and I'm a member of this Church. "Because the Bible says so. Since you're the Teacher. and I'll show you. but if you're interested. But. honestly." Denise caressed each lovingly with her eyes. they don't believe that stuff much. and Church. and integrity of the Word. and saw that Roger had arrived. I don't really know what to believe!" Denise replied. Her eyes were pleading for an answer that would convince her. he had become a dear friend. Papa. here.stated. Mom and Dad. I've been baptized. Denise. who was rather quiet. in the name of the Son. A feeling of growing excitement began to build up within her. "How can you know. and we're told to pray according to God's will. Jesus himself said to pray to the Father. wanting an answer desperately. when I was a kid. Papa? How can you really know for sure?" Denise answered softly. You and Nana always seem to handle things. in Sunday School. as a basis for salvation. I mean. we were just about to look up some scriptures concerning the authority. why don't you take over?" Papa asked politely. "Roger. we're not to ask out of selfishness. Papa. Of course. Walking into the kitchen to get the book. and getting to know Him in a personal way. I'm kind of confused. I've heard about it. in the short time she had been at the farm. "I don't want to go against your parents. But. Denise? Born again?" "I guess not. "I'd like that. but she couldn't understand why. I'll tell you why I believe. . Denise heard a motor.

13:1 and Heb." Nana laughed. with that basis. now she realized it was true! Her heart warmed with the knowledge. the scriptures began to show the prophesies in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah. Mom and Dad? Would they disown her or what? How could she not accept these things as true. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established". and intimacy of the dining room table. Got an extra Bible for Denise?" Roger questioned. I'll tell ya what! Let's get our Bibles out. The evidence was clear. all-powerful God. Roger began to confirm that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Now. Roger and Papa agreed. They each looked up scriptures as they continued the study. but now it began to make sense to her. "and just about all the different versions!" They moved from the comfort of the living room cushions to the closeness. we've got plenty of Bibles. 10:28. The first priority. now that she'd seen in the book for herself. Denise was amazed at the mounting evidence before her. after what she'd learned? What about Jon. Surely she had heard all this before. well. "An impossibility with human beings. to the ascension of Jesus into the heavens. I really learned a lot tonight. She thought of all the times she had been in Sunday School and Church services. what was she going to do about it? Was she ready to make a commitment. and then the fulfillment of the prophesies by Jesus' life. the Christ." . 17:6. Thanks for the Bible Study. 2 Cor. "It's getting pretty late. but. Denise said. Next. was to base everything on the principle that. written by over thirty different men. Rising from the table. "Of course. according to Deut. from the virgin birth. and have a good old-fashioned Bible Study. over a period of several centuries. that was going to be a big decision. But to make a commitment to serve this God." Roger stated. There was no doubt left in Denise's mind. yet the 66 books of the Bible each agree and refer to the others. mine's in the truck."Well. Then. and I've gotta get up early to go to the hospital. John 8:17. Possible only with an all-wise. and the words she heard had made little sense to her. I think I'll call it a night.

and tests to study for. again. He got out. come back to me! But. at times. listening to the night sounds. as Denise made herself comfortable in the big. the leaves in the big tree next to her window rattling slightly. It had been such a long time. what would she do. . soft bed.Denise became very angry. goodnight. In her room. do you hear? Jon! Jon. he wouldn't be down that weekend. and Jon took her in his arms. sleep overtook her. a cricket singing. Then she began to dream. as an occasional breeze stirred them. it was only a dream. The darkness closed in. but he said he had a thesis to write. Denise felt. Did she ever hold her in her arms. the feel of his arms around her. her own mother? Why does this haunt me.why. close to her body. Besides. and began to scream. though it had only been a couple of weeks. But. as if she didn't exist! Denise awakened in a cold sweat. If only she knew what to do. and owl occasionally 'whoing'. Denise thought about his dreamy brown eyes. her heart pounding rapidly in her chest. his body close to hers. Her heart melted at the thought of being with him again.. Jessie Arnold opened the door. she watched as Jon's car pulled up at an unfamiliar house." Nana called out after Denise. she drifted back into a restless sleep. she had thought it out thoroughly. Finally. Denise wondered sleepily. Denise pondered her situation. and. she realized it was only a dream. tossing and turning. or a nightmare! But. I'll probably never know the answers to these ridiculous questions! Finally. We'll be turning in soon. again. just long enough to tell herself. and Jon and Jessie walked arm in arm to Jon's car.. and again her mind wandered to the lady without a name or face who had given birth to her. if Jon was unfaithful to her? She lay awake for a long time."Well. 'No! No! He's mine. and walked up to the door of the house. why would she dream a thing like that! After all. they ignored her screams. and they had talked a long time. in her dream. awakening briefly. and decided that the conversation she had overheard that day had been only a wild fantasy. and what to think! Why was life so complicated? Jon would be down this weekend . mine. In her dream. After a few moments. He had called again last Friday night. that was day after tomorrow.

Today's my first day. All it meant. "Yes. The patient was lying still. "No.sized porcelain doll. her leg still in traction. cupid bow mouth. supported with pillows. Denise decided. Pretty. she thought. as she stood looking over the patient. was that she was terribly jealous. I'm Maria Marshall. to keep her dream off her mind. I haven't seen you before. Would it really work? Did she dare try it? Would everyone think she was crazy? But. The nurse came in to check her vital signs. It was really crazy. I just like to check on her every chance I get. I just came in for a minute. and no swelling. yet. Denise didn't know this nurse. But there hadn't even been any answers. something almost familiar.THE CALL Chapter 15 Denise had determined this morning that she would not dwell on her nightmare. There were no bandages on her face. from the missing persons' list. It was amazing that no one had ever found her purse. while I'm on break. now. or any idenification for the lady. but there was something about her. the nurse had said. The theory was that perhaps it had been thrown from the car. Denise went to Jane Doe's room. since she had begun to make her rounds. It was too ridiculous to even consider. Very pretty. She looked almost like a life. but an air of expectancy followed her wherever she went. No changes in her condition. what difference would it make? At her first break. Am I interrupting?" she asked. the oval eyes with long lashes. if it worked. I am. So she had begun to focus on Jane Doe. "Excuse me. and maybe an animal had drug it off somewhere. the slightly sharp nose. Denise noted the naturally arched eyebrows. You must be new." Denise stated curiously. but I think I'm . anyway. and softly curving chin.It was almost unbelievable.

of course. I heard something really strange that has supposedly brought some people out of comas before. "but it kinda makes sense. I think she's really pretty!" "You know. oh. people will even come out of a coma to answer a phone. most of us would do anything to answer a phone when it's ringing. smiling. I can't see how it could hurt to try it. I think anything that could possibly bring her out of it would be wonderful!" "Well." Denise confided. since no one knows who she is. you know? Like. "No." she said laughingly. was talking about how hung up we are. You know." "You know. "Really? What is it? She's been in a coma for some time according to her chart. I'm Denise Whitaker." Maria laughed. Go ahead. "It's nice to meet you Maria. Are you related or something?" Maria asked. "Sure. just one of the volunteers. supposedly a psychologist. it just might work. but I'm afraid everyone will think I'm crazy. sure. Why don't we use it? Let's give it a try. Ever heard of such a thing?" Denise asked. Let it ring. Do you have any change for the pay phone?" "Oh. What could it hurt? I'll turn the ringer on the phone down just a little. Do it. "but thanks. that's dumb. "No. OK?" . say. ten times. you really look a lot like this lady." Maria said. I'm really dying to try it. They'd probably think I was nuts!" Denise responded. "Would you want to use the phone in the nurse's station?" "I don't know. I'll wait here. trying to gain the courage for such a step." she answered. I've got a few minutes.gonna love it here. so it won't disturb the other patients. Do you really think we should?" Denise asked. especially if there's no physical reason for the coma. thoughtfully. "The pay phone is in the waiting room. "Well. nowadays. right around the phone. He said a lot of times. on answering the phone. There's usually several people in there. this guy on a radio talk show." Denise laughed.

"Yeah.! Thanks'" Denise called out as she turned. she walked back to the room to talk with Maria. and though she didn't come out of her coma. but a response. alone. mind you. After all. her heart racing with every ring. let me call. just a slight change of expression. It's just got to work! But. something was bound to happen! Denise avoided thoughts about God. huh?" Denise stated as she closed the door behind her. she thought to herself. Mom wrote briefly that Dad was doing fine. and they were always praying! Denise remembered the post card she had received from Mom and Dad. OK? Let's try again. glad to have settled that question in her heart. upon entering the room." Denise called on her way out. and it was encouraging to Denise." Feeling a little better that there had maybe been some reaction. but not ready yet to face the question that haunted her now. nonetheless! Let's not give up. she thought. Just got my hopes up too high. They hadn't taken more than weekend trip together. Maria. with a really neat picture of some of the ancient ruins. not accepting defeat well at all. Denise began her duties with a new enthusiasm.OK! See you then. even though slight. They would be home in about a week. At least. from Italy. She didn't answer! Dejected. still looking like a 'sleeping beauty'. now. hurriedly leaving the room. so can we meet in here about twelve-thirty? This time. disappointed. "My lunch break is at twelve o'clock. if Nana and Papa were praying for her. I can't say for sure. so it may work yet!" Maria was still optimistic. and all she had learned last night. "You know. according to Maria. let it work. she hung up. she knew God would answer Nana and Papa's prayers. "Thanks. and they both were enjoying the trip immensely.K. "No good. as . and you watch her. she didn't see the defeated look on Maria's face as she expected. at the end of the tenth ring. I could swear there was a frown. although the Jane Doe was lying exactly as she had left her. OK? I really think there was a slight reaction. and had several more attractions lined up visit. Please. Now what? But. When do you get another break?" Maria asked. Denise dialed the room number from the pay phone just down the hall. Denise was pleased for them."O. please.

but it was there! She moved her left hand just slightly... Maria opened the door to the room. but it was working! Excitement. but it happened again! And the expression on her face changed a little. It must have been her imagination.. Maria... and began plan the things she would prepare. but at the farm.wait! Was that a flicker of her eyelids? No. I want so badly for you to get well. Denise knew there was no more time left today to continue the experiment. She just knew it! Just . And she was determined not to let her stupid dream keep them from having a good time while he was down! Tommorow would be a good time for that afternoon picnic the pasture. "Any response?" she asked Denise quietly. then I thought it was just my imagination. with excitement. though quiet. she was in Jane Doe's room.. and curiously stepped in. Seven. just a faint change in the sleep-like expression. it's really working! Her voice was high-pitched... Denise knew a change had taken place. at twelve-thirty.. a tiny movement of her left hand.. but her hopes had not been completely unjustified. and the phone began to ring.. he would call as soon as he arrived. were at home. One. eight. and renewed faith flooded over Denise at that moment.. she had to wait for his call. But. It's working. two. there it was again! By the tenth ring. there was! I saw her eyes flicker first. talking to the paitent. I don't know how to describe it. she thought dreamily.as planned. "Can you hear me? Can you open your eyes? I believe you can hear me. between patients.. nothing! Her heart began sink... "Yes! Yes.. too. taking in the scene. Please open your eyes.. as she leaned over the bed. Denise leaned over the patient watching intensely for any change. she could just look out her window and know when he got there. three. But. Just lying the motionless as if in a trance. six. relief.. the flickering eyelashes! It was working. of course.. or in the morning? She had forgotten ask him! If she. with Denise leaning over the bed. But. in a quiet voice saying to the patient. still nothing. realizing this was Friday.. any movement..long as she could remember. It would not be long before the lady regained consciousness. Four. not like she had imagined.. five.. Denise*s eyes glittered with enthusiasm. Did he plan to come in tonight. Then she thought of Jon.

and set about to choose her outfit. as she applied the new polish to her nails." Nana called from the kitchen. this would do nicely for a laid-back evening with her favorite guy! How wonderfully everything was working out! All was well with Jon. And what a looker!" Denise cracked up. shampoo. And Jane Doe was beginning to come out of her coma! All is right with the world. and blow-dried her hair. Denise had been trying really hard to quit biting her nails. when she heard the sound of the familiar loud tail pipes from Jon's sportscar. this time. and began to get ready for her date. she hurried through her shower. and looking at the clock on the bathroom wall. Anxious to see him again. Applying layers of new yarn. "Must be here to see you. looked in the mirror for approval. Using the curling iron. when Denise shared the news of the Jane Doe's progress with Nana and Papa! But Jon's call interrrupted the excited conversation. and she would be with him in just a little while. She couldn't believe Nana was talking like that! . and he was at home. and saw her long fingernails. She had found a shade of pink which went perfectly with some of the tiny roses in her shirt. Yes. They were actually long enough to file. Denise gave him directions. Mom and Dad were doing well and having a good time in Europe. and a multicolored floral print cotton top. Perfect timing! "Someone's here. then carefully re-applied her make-up. And no fakes. either! Denise had just finished with the polish. and pulling them on. She quickly chose a pair of mint green walking shorts. now. Denise. by the sound of the car. and was blowing her nails to dry them. she fitted Jon's senior ring snugly on her finger. decided there was still time for a manicure. getting ready to come out to the farm.wait until she could tell Nana and Papa about this! Such rejoicing there was in the little house on the farm. Denise decided. Mom would be really proud of her when she returned from the trip. Nana and Papa were so good to her (and so much fun!). and so far. she styled her natural curls becomingly. she had succeeded.

this is Jon Rivers. too. I know you'll love him. and only! Jon. I want you to meet Nana. I guess. and Todd. "Papa's out in the pasture somewhere. this is my grandmother. which he gratefully accepted. and offered him a Coke. Nana? He should be back soon." Jon murmured quietly while holding her. Denise jokingly said." Denise. then opened the door. I can tell by the sound. and off they went to see what was happening in town. tonight! We'll be back around eleven. and I'm not about to share him." I'm anxious for you to meet him. FLASHBACK Chapter 16 . Papa kept them busy for fifteen minutes. Nana. either. Standing at the door. And. stranger. Irene Smith. said. isn't he. I'm glad you'll get to meet him. Finally. Papa. Denise waited until Jon stepped onto the big porch. briefly. and to make up for lost time. They piled into Jon's little car. "Now. "Well. yourself! You're sure looking good. walking into the kitchen. "Come on in. as he leaned down and planted a quick kiss on her lips. true to form. Mom's Mom. Denise was so glad that Jon always knew the right things to say and do. just as they were leaving to 'cruise the drag'. asking questions. hello. I haven't seen this guy in two whole weeks. it's Jon. too. Mom and Dad do. He's quite a character!" Denise did get to introduce Jon to Charlie."Yeah. now. and Irene invited Jon into the living room. "Hello." Jon and Irene exchanged pleasantries. OK? Y'all be good while we're gone. and cracking jokes. and knew Nana wouldn't be able to resist his charm. you hear?" she popped off teasingly. the one. Nana." she said in greeting. too.

"You're a real snob. his last searing . Isn't that Jerry just ahead. as she walked along the isolated path leading home. She knew Mom would be worried about her. or popping up with off-color comments'. Joanie always felt uncomfortable around him. Almost dragging her. do ya? Well. and threw her down hard into the weeds of the little clearing. she sprang up. and didn't reaize how late it was getting. as he held her tightly from behind. But. but to no avail. though. his breath hot on her shoulder and neck." he said hatefully. not speaking. and coming rapidly. he was gone. but just as quickly. he pulled her from the path into the brush. it wasn't dark. When she tried to turn. felt herself being shoved back down! The hate and fury began to turn to fear. she felt him grab her arm from behind and twist it behind her back! Joanie cried out in pain. In her fury and panic. yet. as he viciously attacked her. but everything would be OK when she explained. aren't you? Think you're too good for old Jerry. I'll bring you down a notch or two. She didn't like walking home this late by herself. aware of the freedom of movement again.It seemed awfully foggy. as she walked just about even with him. she screamed out. Quickly. as she saw a new look in his eyes. the young girl thought. Then. but was unable to connect with his flesh. seemed like hours. What was actually minutes. but she had been talking with a friend after basketball practice. warning to avoid such movements. she wondered? Jerry was a real creep from her school. and tried to avoid him when at all possible. she shifted her eyes to look straight at the path ahead of her. She definitely did not want to encourage a conversation with him! Then. standing almost in the bushes along the path? What is he doing here. He threw himself down on her. not smiling. Just as she passed him. But it looked impossible today! She glared at him as she neared his still form. deciding he wouldn't bother her today. the pain from her twisted arm seared through her joints. and tried to break his hold on her. "What are you doing? You're hurting me! Quit that!" Tears of helplessness began to roll down her cheeks. Her screams and strength seemed far from her. just as quickly. She tried kicking behind her. and he was always being rude.

What would she tell Mom? What could she tell her. in her mind. frequent small bridges. to the highway. a car behind her. suddenly.words ringing in her ears. She was within fifty miles of her destination. And now. the violation. and now. except for her Mom. and of course. and she alone. a fourteenyear-old girl just couldn't handle all the responsibilities of bringing up a child. But. and loud sobbing to become uncontrollable! How could this have happened? What had she done to deserve something like this? She questioned herself in panic. and culverts. but the pain in her heart was even worse! The humiliation. so did the vehicle behind her. "You rat on me. and 1*11 kill you!" Painfully. noting the car weaving in the road. she rose from the ground. he was blinding her with his bright lights shining in her rear view mirror. and aching all over. this little baby was to be given up for adoption. speeding up and getting closer. Then the scene switched. had to deal with the terror. as she tried to cover her near naked body with the ripped shorts and top. to let go of this precious little bundle was almost more than she could bear. The threat of . Where was her bag with her school clothes? On the trail. but the truth? How else would she be able to explain the ripped basketball practice outfit? How could she have let this happen to her? Why couldn't she stop him? In the fog. She glanced back frequently. As her Mom had said many times. somewhat undulating with the occassional hills. Jerry had been convicted of the rape and sent away to a juvenile detention center. she decided in alarm as she tried to gain control of her panic. and last time. Deciding that the driver must be drunk. guilt. but she had noticed for the last few miles. she sped up to get away from this unpredictable vehicle. and she was crying out with the pain of separation. the financial burden would be unbearable. Surely it was a him! The road stretched out in front of her. still all over the road. and unwanted pregnancy. almost as if she had challenged him. she saw herself in the hospital. then backing off. as she sped up. caused the tears. already. and very tired from traveling. There had been very little traffic since turning on this highway. holding her own precious baby girl in her arms for the first. So much had happened since that fateful evening of the rape. probably. feeling as if her whole body was bruised. But. the terror.

screaming.V. would he also slow down. just barely at first. She heard someone in the background screaming. . reassuring tones. What if she just stopped. slowing automatically to let the other car around. Maria. blinding her as she. as two other nurses held the patient. But there she was. off the shoulder of the road. consumed her thoughts. and continued to speak softly to her. rushed into the room where the frightened scream continued. looking at the speedometer. Pushing the emergency call button. glass splintering. not even realizing it was Jane Doe's room. the nurse attempted to quiet the patient. if she should stop? The car was now almost on her bumper. Then the feeling of floating in air. she slowly began to relax her tense muscles. carefully guarding the I. the screaming ebbed. clutching her chest. for a minute. invaded her weary consciousness. bouncing painfully. which Maria administered quickly and efficiently. moved onto the shoulder of the road. the sound of metal crushing. the lights glaring. It was already on eighty.five mph. as if it were a game. the doctor ordered a quick acting. as if being jerked from side to side. she wondered. When soft tones and touch were unable to quieten the frightened patient. without making a conscious decision. site. and as the nurses continued ministering to the fragile-looking young woman. or would he pass her. and helplessness. Within minutes. How fast would she have to go to get away from him. grasping her hands. other nurses were present in the room. She opened her eyes. with a soft voice. and fearfully asked. her hands drawn up in fists. You've been here for some time. . the nurse on duty. speaking in soft. striking again the chord of terror. Are you hurting anywhere?" Maria asked gently. and the doctor on duty following only slightly behind. as Denise had called her sympathetically. Almost immediately. and let them around? Was there a danger of him stopping.being overtaken. perhaps wrecking? The car was weaving all over the road. What could she do? If she slowed down. screaming as if her life depended on it.. and something wet and sticky running over her in the darkness. "Where am I?" "You're in a hospital near where you were found in a wrecked car. the previous 'sleeping beauty'. but mild tranquilizer. eyes closed. now.

waited as it rang. "I'm just weak. then heard the pleasant voice of Denise's grandmother answer. "She'll be so excited to hear that! We've been praying for her. and headed straight for the phone at the nurse's station. It won't be long until the traction setup will be removed. I'm a nurse out at the hospital. We didn't even know who you were." she answered hesitantly. yes. Thank you so . "Hello. and it looks like she's gonna be fine?" "Well. asked. and a friend of Denise's." "Well." After a few minutes discussion. "Would you just tell her that Jane Doe has regained consciousness. Maria dialed the number. her speech becoming slightly sluggish. "I think maybe I should rest a little while. as she noted the patient's eyelids getting heavy. "Are you getting sleepy. Maria left the room. there wasn't any I. Is she available? I would sure like to share some good news with her." Nana exclaimed." Then noticing her leg in a cast. praise the Lord! I will surely tell her. She's gone off today with her boyfriend for a picnic in the pasture. the volunteer? I know she would want to know what's happened. Is this where Denise Whitaker is staying?" "Why. "Does anyone know how to get in touch with Denise Whitaker. After orienting her drowsy patient to the call light system.D. Do you remember your name?" "Joan--Joan Weston." the lady answered. A lot of people call me Joanie. I'm sorry. and I don't really expect her back before dark. very weak." "Oh. but I'll tell her you called." Nana said sweetly. someone found the phone number for Denise's grandparents."No. I'm her grandmother." Joanie answered. this is Maria Marshall. but it's healing nicely. you've been unconscious for so long. as the memories began once more to flood her mind. to spread the good news. "What's wrong with my leg?" "You have a fracture. Joanie?" Maria asked. and traction. We've been worried about you. found. it is.

and that love was returned. Surely. Then his touch had become almost demanding. After all. but only if two people had made a lifetime commitment to God and each other. Denise didn't really even believe there was a God. they had studied scriptures in the Bible which listed fornication and adultery with the evil works of murder and idolatry. Now. wanting to do good. until she surrendered. What was it that was so different. That sex was a wonderful gift from God. so she had given little heed to the teaching. he is a God of love. His passion spent. didn't she? And he loved her! She didn't have to worry about things like pregnancy and diseases. Denise . Denise remembered in Sunday School. Denise wondered. but continuing to do wrong. Denise and Jon lay snuggled up on the blanket she had brought from Nana's. when you loved someone. Roger had explained carefully to his mixed class that premarital sex was fornication. And she and Jon had always been cautious. She had learned a long time ago.much for calling. The tablecloth and picnic items were still spread nearby. The pleasure of being with Jon was for some reason greatly diminished. But. snoring softly. She had since the first time she'd seen him! As usual. though the food had been hungrily devoured quite a while back. Jon was sleeping soundly. but what could she do? Jon would never understand if she suddenly denied him. He had proven that today! What if he sought out other girls? How could she bear that? Denise felt trapped. he'd been sweet and gentle. in sex education class at school. God wouldn't expect denial of the love. it just wasn't the same. at that time. Why. Was it guilt? Why should there be guilt? She loved him. Of course. why was it different? Somehow. TRANSITION Chapter 17 In a secluded clearing of the large pasture. she wondered. how to prevent those things. She knew she loved him. at least until she hesitated. with no answer in sight. things were different.

she decided as she rose silently from the ground to avoid waking Jon. what with contraceptives. her back to him. Discretion and precaution seemed to be the main thing from her parents point of view. "What? Of course not! How could you even think such a thing?" "I don't know. for herself. Thinking back. Oh. where'd you go?" Then looking around. as she walked over to a large oak tree. and they would comment about how dumb that was. What would Nana and Papa say. ." Denise prayed quietly. Nana and Papa had given her a new Bible. making a mental note to study the Bible regarding this issue. she told herself. a new coolness was in his voice as he called out to her.concluded. and condoms. "Denise. to get caught in that situation. Jon. one with references. Perhaps Roger had overlooked something which would ease her conscience." John said. "Show me what to do. concordance. and such. This would be her first study. nowadays. dictionary and a lot of study helps. and called out. I've never seen you like this before. and noted a few cows moping along. God. please don't talk like that! You know how much I love you. Mom and Dad had never made her feel like premarital sex was wrong. But. he walked toward her. knowing that they had a close relationship with the God of the Universe! Jon awakened. Getting to his feet. there had been times when something was said about a girl who turned up pregnant. but you're sure acting strange. looking out upon the expanse of pasture land with a large tank in the distance. if they knew about her relationship with Jon? Denise cringed at the thought! There is your answer. "Oh. or with a venereal disease. "What is going on with you? You've sure changed! Are you seeing someone else or what?" Spinning around to meet his gaze. eating the grass leisurely. he saw her standing beside the tree. propped on one elbow. a surprised Denise said to him. she couldn't remember any thing about a moral standpoint being made clear. no. You want to tell me what's going on? I wouldn't even have left campus if I'd known you were going to be like this. disapprovingly.

Stunned. huh? Answer me that!" Jon's voice was becoming increasingly bitter. and rushed to pack up the picnic things. and. only He knows what is best for me!" "Sure! And how are you supposed to know what He wants for you. I just don't understand you at all!" . and wants what is best for me. well. burying her face in his neck." "Jon. Responding to her touch. I didn't really think there was a God. But deep in her heart. so unfeeling when referring to the Almighty God? Then. I'm convinced now that He is real. like the Bible says?" "What? Don't tell me you're going religious on me!" "I don't know. to do as she pleased with her life? Suddenly. I'm just not sure where I'm going from here! You're right. suddenly irritated with Jon's irreverant manner. "I don't understand you. and selfishly. he said. something's different! You sure don't act like you used to. she reminded herself that she. "Well. and held him tight. really considered. we had a Bible study at Nana and Papa's.and I've missed you so much while you were gone!" She walked to him. sadly. have you ever considered. Don't give me that! Have they been preaching 'hell and brimstone' to you. whether there's a God or not?" Jon asked impatiently. had been that way. too. "They've preached "love*." "Oh. hadn't she really known all along? Hadn't she deliberately denied that knowledge to please her parents. or what? What's the big deal. Jon followed reluctantly. as tears sprang to her eyes with this revelation. come on Denise. put her arms around him. Denise. telling herself there really wasn't a God. but this really affects everything in my life. things are different! I never realized it before. as she wondered how her beautiful plans for this afternoon had gone down the drain! How could he be so callous. "No. more gently. that God loves me. anyway. and that since He created me. whether there is a God? You know. Denise thought. they have not preached 'hell and brimstone' to me!" Denise said. she asked Jon to take her home. but. though.

once again. "Do you want me to drive you in. Denise thought. Don't worry about me. suddenly excited. I'd better take my car. "Denise. if not. how could she bear to live without Jon? He was surely the only guy she could ever love! Life was so unfair. Shortly she returned. They had to! When they reached Nana and Papa's house. "The food was delicious!" "Good. "I'm just thanking the Lord that." Nana answered. but they would work it out. OK?" "I won't". She knew you would want to know!" "Oh. she thought. that's wonderful! I can't wait to see her and get to know all about her. if there was such a thing! But. You wouldn't believe how long I've waited for this!" exclaimed Denise. Denise looked at him. or do you want to take your car?" asked Jon almost reluctantly. leaving Jon standing in the kitchen. "Oh.They drove to the house in silence. I've got to go see her. Nana!" Denise said. you had a call from Maria at the hospital. "I'll be home in a little while. right now!" "What about tonight? I thought we were going out!" Jon asked defensively. glancing back and forth between the two. their eyes meeting for a moment. hugging Nana tightly. She said your patient. "Did you have a good picnic?" She asked casually. Nana said. and keeping Jon. for offering. Jon helped Denise carry in the picnic things. but with a curious look on his face. in frustration. "I've got to go to her. as Denise tried to figure out a balance between obeying God. "Thanks. Nana. looking very uncomfortable. and said politely. ready to go." Jon answered. our . but I'm afraid you'd be bored at the hospital. Jon. "Yeah. Nana met them at the door. She was very unhappy with Jon right now. Jane Doe had come out of the coma. And I have no idea how long I'll be there." She hurried to her room to change clothes and freshen up. "Sorry.

and almost frightened. but politely said. And now that she was conscious. understand. was inwardly giving a heartfelt thanks to God! Jon walked with her to the car with an unsure. she seemed rested. Hesitating. "See ya later." as she started up her car. as she realized she did understand. then turned on his heel. why was she so anxious? . curious. and felt almost pity for him that he couldn't. to step into the room of this stranger who had occupied so many of her thoughts. Was that a look of revenge in his eyes? Denise wondered. Jon. she decided. Maria said they had told Joanie about Denise. and found out all that had happened. and not knowing why. as if he was trying to figure out a new approach. stood at the door of Joanie Weston's room." Denise caught a strange. and she. and doing quite well. and she could finally meet her. She'd worry about Jon later. or didn't want to. Maria said it would be fine to go in to see her. as soon as she found out Joanie had regained consciousness. Denise caught his sideways glances. as she focused her thoughts on Jane Doe's recovery. Jon could wait! MEETING JOANIE Chapter 18 Denise. As Denise climbed into her car. unbelieving look in Jon's eyes as Nana said those words. Gotta go now. as if the situation suddenly was out of control. In fact. and that she would probably be here. Without a word. Then. hesitant manner. and much of her time since she had been brought in.prayers have been answered. she coolly. Maria said that after Joanie's tranquilizer wore off. and he was planning his strategy. too. There was just too much to think about now. amazed herself. She had talked with Maria at the nurse's station before coming to her room. Jon stared at her briefly. and how devoted she had been.

Gathering her courage and putting on her best 'volunteer smile', she knocked on the half-closed door. Hearing a soft 'come in', she stepped inside. She could see the patient sitting up in bed. The television was on in front of the beautiful young woman. "Hi, I'm Denise Whitaker. I'm a volunteer here at the hospital. I've been hoping to meet you ever since you came in," Denise said, shyly. "Hello, Denise. I'm Joan Weston. You can call me Joanie, if you like. That's what most everybody calls me. You must be the one everybody has told me about, who's been so faithful and concerned about me. I appreciate it. I really do," she said, clicking off the television. Denise sat down in the chair near the bed and said, "I couldn't believe you were here so long, and we didn't know anything about you, how to get in touch with your family, or even what to call you. We called you 'sleeping beauty' a lot," Denise said smiling. "Hey, that's sweet. Looks like everybody took pretty good care of me while I was 'out'. The doctor said I would probably get the traction setup off in a couple of days, then I could go home pretty soon. I live not too far from here, a little community called Golden. Do you know where that is?" "Yes, kind of. I've heard of it anyway. Do you have any family that we should contact? A husband, children? What happened anyway? Do you remember?" "Yeah, I remember, but it seems more like a nightmare, than reality! I was coming home from a visit to my brother's family's home. He died not long ago, and was buried in Colorado, where they had lived for quite a while. And this drunk driver, I guess he was drunk, (or maybe it was kids showing off, or something),I don't know - was behind me for several miles. I was trying to get ahead of him, or let him pass me, and the next thing I knew, here I am!" "Gosh, that's awful! Thank God you weren't killed! You were awfully lucky to have only a fractured leg, and minor injuries. You know, the scars hardly show on your face!" "You're right! I do thank God!" Joanie said with a shudder. "It sure could have been much worse!" "About your family, is there anyone we should call?" Denise asked.

"Oh, well, I don't really have much family, anymore," Joanie said sadly. "My husband was killed in an accident three years ago." "Oh, that's awful," Denise responded sympathetically. "And I didn't have any children. Well," Joanie hesitated, "I did give up a child for adoption when I was fourteen. But, that's a long story. I had been raped... After that, I could never get pregnant again, something about some damage that was done in childbirth, the doctors said. Anyway, I don't know why I'm telling you all this. You must think I'm terrible." "Oh, no! I'm just sorry you've had so much sorrow! And to be so young, and beautiful! May I ask you a very personal question? You don't have to answer it, if you'd rather not," Denise asked shyly. "I don't mind," Joanie replied, curiously. "Well, I was just wondering if you ever think about the baby you gave up. I'm sorry! I'm being too nosy, huh? I mean, I'm adopted, and I wonder about my 'real' mom a lot, you know. Just if, if she ever thinks about me, and stuff. I don't mean to pry, after all, you hardly know me!" "Oh, that's OK." Joanie said sadly, looking off toward the window with the curtains pulled back. "You know, I haven't talked about this to anyone for a long, long time. I've just kept it all bottled up inside." Looking back at Denise, she said, "Yes, I think about my little girl all the time. I only got to see her, and hold her one time. She would be about your age now, I guess. She was born on July 10. She's just turned sixteen, the way I figure it. No, I'll never forget that day!" Denise felt the color began to drain from her face, as she heard the date of Joanie*s child's birth. No, of course not! It couldn't be! It was just coincidence, that it was also Denise's birthdate! That she was also adopted-all just a coincidence! "I can't imagine the horror of being raped, and being pregnant from it, and then giving up the baby! It must have been awful! And you were only fourteen?" Denise responded, trying to make her voice sound normal, as her mind was racing. "Yes, but you grow up fast in a situation like that! I loved my baby girl

very much, even though it was a horrible way to conceive. I didn't want to give her up, but I knew I had to, for her sake! But, I've prayed if the Lord be willing, I'll get to see her again, someday. I pray for her all the time. I call her Diane. Of course, I don't know her real name, but God does." "That's such a sweet story. I hope you do get to meet her. I'm sure she would be very proud to know you were her mother." Denise replied, feeling she had to get out of this room as soon as possible! She had to get herself under control! Denise looked at her watch, and said almost hastily, "Well, I've really enjoyed talking to you, Joanie, and I'm so glad you're doing well. I've really got to go now, but, I'll be back. I promise." "Thank you, for coming, and for listening. I guess I needed to talk to someone, today. I was having flashbacks, when I came out of the coma. And you're a very kind girl. Did you say your name is Denise?" "Yes, Denise Whitaker." "Please do come back to visit me. I like you already, Denise." Tears filled Denise's eyes as she left the room, and began to walk down the hall to the elevator. Wishing it could be true, that she had found her 'real' mother, then scolding herself, she continued to remind herself that this couldn't happen. She couldn't be Joanie Weston's daughter! It was just too far out! But yet, the same birthday! And Maria had asked if she was related to her! She said they looked a lot alike! And Denise had felt that feeling of familiarity, looking at the 'sleeping beauty'. Could it be? Oh, God, could both our prayers have been answered? It was already dark when Denise walked out of the hospital, and out to her car. Though preoccupied in thought, fear began to rise up in her, as she walked to the dimly lit parking lot, remembering the many warnings she'd had about kidnappers, rapists, and murderers, lurking in parking lots at night. Hurriedly, she unlocked her car door, climbed inside, and locked her door again. Breathing a sigh of relief, she put the key in the ignition, and started her car. She turned on her lights, and pulled out of the parking lot onto the street. Scolding herself for her fear, she remembered that Joanie had been raped. Perhaps, her fear wasn't so foolish after all! Curious about the circumstances of the attack, Denise let her mind wander, as she automatically turned onto

she pursued. perhaps. hoping to get a glimpse of whoever was with him. this couldn't be Jon! But who else drove a car like that in this town? Instictively. Could that have been Jon? After the way things were left this afternoon. at an uncontrolled intersection. after rescuing her from the lonely highway. and then her continuous excuses for his behavior. as if playing some kind of game with the driver. Following more slowly. though hoping against hope. Denise's thoughts returned to graduation night. as they had planned. causing a near panic. How had everything gone so wrong? Interrupting Denise's confusion. but there was a girl in there with the driver. Then she went to the hospital. she saw that the driver was paying little attention to the traffic. alone. college guy like Jon wasn't about to sit at home on a Saturday night! Driving as close to the sports car as she dared. How could she have forgotten so quickly. Denise knew. trying not to attract his attention. Red flags went up in Denise's mind! That looked like Jon's car. in spite of the fact that the driver manipulated the car speedily. He had been upset with her this afternoon. Denise followed suit! She had to know what was going on! With close observation. and without hesitation. when Roger had parked here. which looked very much like Jon's. Then the awful feelings came flooding back with the memory of the afternoon picnic. avoiding a collision. Denise felt very unsure of everything! The car in front of her put on the blinker for a right turn.the main drag. on the highway leading out of town. The unusually congested traffic reminded Denise it was Saturday night. the car ahead made it's way to a convenience store. The passenger seemed to be moving around in the car a lot. . What did she expect? A good-looking. instead of spending time with Jon. Jon hadn't been so perfect after all. pulled carelessly out in front of her. that it had to be Jon! But who could the passenger be? Fury began building as the pieces began falling into place. a black sportscar. Surely. she began to admit to herself for the first time that. popular. Remembering the feeling of rejection and desolation after Jon had left her stranded on the highway. Signaling for a left turn.

and petite build. but after all. She had considered confronting Jon right there. Well. Could it have been true? The things that she had overheard in the restroom that day? Denise had never seriously considered the possibility of Jon cheating on her before. she wasn't going to let him off so easily this time! ALL THINGS NEW! Chapter 19 Furious with the young man Denise had thought she loved. she had totally excused his behavior Was that love? Or was it stupidity? The passenger was getting out of the car. when he would take her to visit Dad. knowing the problems that could come from it. the one whom Denise had overheard saying she had been with Jon! Denise was shocked. As Denise drove slowly by. he still had no right to be with another girl! And they had looked quite chummy in the car. For some reason. Jessie! Jessie Arnold. Was this a first offense? Probably not! Her gut feeling told her the girl had been telling the truth about the late-night ride. And what was Jon doing all those times while Dad was in the hospital. what had changed? They were still 'going steady'! She still was wearing his ring! Regardless of the afternoon quarrel. he had willingly indulged. but thought better of it. and disappear with explainations of having 'things to do'? . and started for the farm. Oh. no! It was the redhead from the graduation party.She realized that although Jon's actions had been induced by the beer he drank. the fear of losing Jon. perhaps fear. she turned around. Denise decided angrily. yes. but there was no mistaking the copper-red hair. There was a lot to be considered. she searched her mind for the girl's name. she realized while driving the country road. but what was it? Now she remembered. She had looked it up in the yearbook.

"Did you talk to your patient? How is she? Does she remember anything?" Nana asked excitedly. I had a good visit with her. It was like the pieces of a puzzle suddenly coming together! Arriving at the farm. Denise decided. she would have to work out alone! Nana met her at the door. She hated going into a dark house alone at night. Denise told herself. but she doesn't remember the accident exactly. and she doesn't have any kids. Of course. and she doesn't seem to have lost any of her memory! Her name is Joanie Weston and she lives in Golden. then continued. or how it happened. now. "Oh. might well be coming to an end. not this time. Nana. She really is nice. realizing her hopes. Her husband died a while back. This. perhaps I will. and thesis papers which would prevent him coming home on weekends? If he was unfaithful to her right under her nose. That was encouraging. Denise saw that the kitchen light was still on. Well. she would try to get some information first! Her head would be stuck in the sand no longer! In spite of the anger.Sarcastically. Denise found herself saddened." Denise hesitated just a second. But. but not about this. who he was doing them with! What about the times Jon said he had tests. She doesn't have any family left. you know. except her dead brother's family. unlocking it to let her in. and tell her how we've been praying for her recovery. why not on campus? Now was not the time to confront him with these questions. and concerned with her! Do you think she knows the Lord?" . without being able to trust him. It would be good to have someone to talk to. dreams. it's because you were so involved. she is doing great. she could live very well without him! Better than she could. Nana. Denise wondered. of course. what if she was wrong? No. even though it was well past her grandparents' usual bedtime. "She thinks she was being followed by a drunk driver. But. Besides. he could always lie about it. and plans for a future with Jon. If he would cheat on her. if he truly was that kind of guy. who lives in Colorado. I wish you could meet her!" "Me too. I could go visit her. why wouldn't he lie to cover it up? No.

"We can pray about that. a long time ago. she realized. she was sure they were doing fine. Of course. Things had happened so fast. and having fun. Feeling tired. and what he thought of the whole mess. going from the afternoon picnic. she wondered if it applied to her. Well. on the verge of sleep. she'd hardly even had time to miss her parents. "But." Nana said. or Todd. since she had been at Nana and Papa's. Quietly closing the door to her room. Nana. You know. it really wouldn't surprise me if she does. She mentioned praying."I think so. and Grandma and Grandpa at Church. and the traction will probably come off in a day or two. Her mind was like a three ring circus. though. a scripture was brought to her mind. to the possibility of being her daughter. did you say her name was?" "Yeah. she probably would see Todd. And she would just have to sit down . and aching from the emotional conflicts of the previous day. Wishing she could just sleep the day away. now. I don't know what she'll do. to Jon's disloyalty. and I just may call on this-Joanie. Her condition has been stable for sometime. to Joanie." Denise said thoughtfully. she forced herself to get ready for Church. She remembered learning it in Vacation Bible School. as she began to turn out the lights and check the doors. Lying quietly in bed. and to them who are the called according to his purpose." "I'll pray about it. "And we know that all things work together for good to those that love God. in such a short time. to avoid waking Papa. Denise began to undress for bed. Denise reminded herself how much she had learned. Repeating it again in her mind. voicing her concern. though. Denise slowly managed to climb out of bed. I think the doctor will probably be releasing her soon." Denise said. with no family to care for her until she's able to care for herself. The heat was already in the air. when Papa called to Denise the next morning. to wondering about God. and we'd better get to bed if we're going to make it to church in the morning. too. It just may be that the Lord can use us to help her in some way. We didn't really talk very much. It's getting late now. Funny that she should remember it. Romans 8:28.

He would be good at that too. and he would be a good example to his students. A total deliverance which occurs not only in our spirit. He said 'except a man be born of the water. How can you be born of the Spirit?" Roger probed.and write to Mom and Dad. but. when Nicodemus asked how a man can be born again when he is old? Do you remember?" "Uh. from the old nature. she knew. also includes deliverance for our soul. from the curse of sin and death. Now. if all went as planned. which is the real you. or our mind. when he died on the cross. They'd be returning home next weekend. I remember the story. it was bought and paid for by Jesus. her mind still wandering from the lesson. who went for the gusto of life. she predicted. and Satan frequently tries to steal our peace. She knew that he was taking classes at a nearby college with plans to eventually teach High School. Not like Jon. Salvation means deliverance. There was no excuse for not writing at least once while they were gone. and of the Spirit. but she had their itenerary. What do you think he meant by that. from hell. Chapter 3 verse 5. will. "And the Word says. she reminded herself. 'that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus. Denise's philosophical thoughts were interrupted by Roger's question to her: "Denise. she found herself thinking. as well as for our body. and of the Spirit. But. "Does it mean like salvation?" Denise asked. she decided." Denise hesitated. "Yes. complete with addresses. as he began to delve into the Sunday School lesson. Roger really was a good teacher. He said something about being born of the water. what did Jesus say to Nicodemus. Denise?" "Well. and our salvation. as he seemed to be able to live what he preached. in Romans 10:9. didn't he?" "Yes. our health. searching for the true meaning. It is not always evident immediately. he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. unsure of her answer. he did. "Is he referring to water baptism?" "That's part of it. It's found in John. and believe in your heart that God has raised . and emotions. with his sincere desire to help others. here is a man.

she thought." . she thought to herself. Knowing everyone was watching her. and the day brighter. It was as if she was in the arms of someone who loved her very much. she walked forward. but there was a difference. the choir was softly singing. she repeated the sinner's prayer. as Denise slowly made her way back to her seat. She wanted Jesus to be her Lord. "Therefore. elated. or guilty of the past! She was just revelling in the gladness of her heart! The preacher was reading from the Bible.. as Denise brought her attention back to her surroundings. II Corinthians 5:17. "And. she decided. determined. No. tears of humbleness. we can't be ashamed of it. and stepped out into the aisle. that she. then as he directed. as the joy did flood her soul! It's gone. you will be saved'. and wondering how this would affect her life.him from the dead. (could she live up to this commitment?). if any man be in Christ. and with her heart pounding heavily in her chest. oh. Paul says in Romans 1:16. deliverance from the sinful nature by public confession of what one already believed in the heart. at last. the cares. The lesson went on. The worry. behold. he is a new creature: old things are passed away. 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. She didn't understand all that had happened. she gathered all her courage. but Denise's thoughts continued to dwell on salvation. Something very definite had happened. if we believe it. all things are become new. the joy that floods my soul". and submission.' Do you think that we should ashamed to confess the Lord in front of people if we're saved?" "No. but rising. she realized. with a very tender. when the invitation was given. afraid of what they were thinking about her. At the close of the worship service. Her steps seemed lighter. wanted deliverance. With tears streaming down her face. a sinner. for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." Denise admitted. she stood silently before the minister as he prayed for her. It is time. public confession. Her fear was unreasonable.. secure love! And it was real! No longer was she afraid of the future. to make an open.

. Adopted into God's own family. almost embarrassed. Nana and Papa were in Denise's little lavender VW. and plans were made to watch the All Star Game 'of the century' as Todd had jokingly described the last. enjoying the newness of life her committment had brought. Once again. and carefree. squeezing the back of Todd's neck affectionately. as he greeted her.Yes. son". with the top down. Denise received many hugs and welcomes to the family of God. Denise's heart light. I've been doing real good!" Todd said eagerly. Denise realized. and where's it at?" As the details were given. she decided to try to find out. since they were nearby. Still. there were unanswered questions lurking in her mind. Papa said. all agreed it would be a good outing. Todd was waiting for Denise and his maternal grandparents. and probably most difficult game they would play this year. Denise knew that she had made them very happy with her decision. Nana and Papa. I've been adopted. Denise thought Todd was acting a little strange. Eventually. "And so far. but especially because it was genuine. "What time does it start. Who was her real mother? Would she ever know for sure? Did anyone know anymore than she did about the reason for her adoption? Bravely. Nana and Papa being the first. "Y'all gonna come to my ballgame Thursday night? You oughta come see me play. I'll never again be the same. we've won more games than all the other teams!" "I'd like that. not just for them. as they eventually made their way to the Church door. Thank you Lord! REALITY! Chapter 20 After the church service. Denise visited briefly with Grandma and Grandpa Whitaker while waiting to go home. I am a new creature in Christ.

from what I understand. the phone rang." "No. no desire to talk with him. there were bound to be other young women who were raped. Are you thinking you'd want to look up your biological mother? You'd really need to talk with your Mom and Dad before you do that. or why I was given up for adoption? It really doesn't matter. but I figured one day you'd want to know. "Denise. and placed them for adoption. I do know that the story was that she had been raped. or if she gave me up for my sake. were you busy? I wondered if you wanted to do something this afternoon. She wondered what would become of him. After lunch. I've been wondering a long time. I'll always love Mom and Dad as my real parents. gave birth to baby girls. became pregnant." Denise was careful not to give any clues about her suspicions. out of love. Hon. but with her questions answered to her own satisfaction. I just would like to know the reason she gave me up. don't worry about that. Denise was amazed at her reaction. Hon. It's not really that important to me. too young to take responsibility for you. "Well. Maybe I shouldn't have told you that part. I'll need to be leaving for school about six o'clock. but I can come out for awhile if you want me to. you know."Nana. let's see. but I wonder about it a lot. and if he would ever truly find happiness. if she just didn't want a baby." "Not really. She was no longer angry with him. I'm glad you told me. I think they said that your mother was very young when you were born. You know. or be near him. just felt a kind of pity for him." ." "I really don't know much to tell you. For the first time since she had known him. I think her family was rather poor. she decided it would be best just to keep it to herself. Nana. It was Jon. It helps even to know that much." Determined to keep her suspicions to herself. do you know anything at all about my biological mother. Denise began evaluating the possibilities. I believe you were given up in order for you to have a good life. but the same birthday? That was just too coincidental! Denise was already 99% sure that Joanie Weston was her biological mother. It won't bother me. Of course. she felt no excitement. I hope you don't let that upset you.

but there wasn't time now. after being so angry last night. or both. I want you to know that I am not the same person you've known all this time. thankful that he had parked in the shade. I want you to know I made Jesus Lord of my life. "Jon." Denise hung up the receiver. Looking into his big brown eyes she decided not to waste time."OK. not asking any personal questions. Wasn't this something akin to a miracle? It didn't take long for Jon to arrive. and went out to meet him as he drove into the front drive. Is everything OK?" Jon sounded concerned. I think it's time to give you your freedom. you've been getting a lot of that religious nonsense crammed down your throat ever since you came out here to stay. thankfully." she said casually. "Everything's great for me. "Hi. but I hope someday you'll make this same decision. today. It will effect my whole life. See you soon. Are you just looking for an excuse to break up with me? Is that it? Don't you have any feelings for me anymore?" Jon's eyes were intense with feeling. Denise had been watching for him through the kitchen window. Denise went to the passenger side of Jon's car and got in. "Listen. She caught Nana's anxious glance as she left the house. She knew Nana sensed that something was up. and noticed a cool breeze was blowing occassionally. as Denise tried to decide whether it was anger or fear. . I'm happier than I've ever been. that would be good. Denise thought." "What are you talking about? I don't want my freedom! I don't understand what's going on with you. Denise. Nana was so sweet. I made a really big decision this morning." "I love you Denise. Really. "OK. in spite of all this. And she still felt happy inside. thinking how odd it was that she could be so calm about facing him. Yes. I really need to talk to you anyway." Jon said gently. Can you come on out now?" "Sure. and wished she'd explained things to her. Jon.Goodbye. You sound kind of strange. Denise.

again. She felt so sorry for him. She understood that this wasn't what he wanted. but after the way you treated me. He reached across the car. after our argument. "Jon. as she handed him his senior ring. it'll never happen again. Sweetheart. It's just a bunch of foolishness. Jon. You'll get over this crazy thinking real soon. I was really upset last night. when you get back home. He released her quickly. and was standing on the front porch. Well. Jon!" "Now. OK? We can work out our problems. when he saw Papa had stepped out the door. glaring at him. I'll admit I did a pretty rotten thing. and grabbed Denise's arm roughly. Now that I've had a taste of real love. in vain. It's justit's just over. but she also understood that he really didn't know what he wanted. You won't have any trouble replacing me. he hadn't been drinking. and let's just give it some time. She couldn't blame it on beer! . but I didn't even know what love was. you're gonna see. She gently tried to loosen his grasp. and no one had to tell me about you being with Jessie Arnold last night.Believe me. I'm really sorry. but then. Denise! You're mine. I was very attracted to you. But. and didn't want me to go. though." she said. and when you left for the hospital. this is not a game I'm playing. So just take back this ring. for no reason. "Look. and I promise. I want you to keep it. Babe. I ran into a girl. I guess word must've gotten back to you. Denise!" "I thought I loved you Jon. OK?" Denise refused to give in to the anger trying to rise up within her. because I saw you for myself. you can't mean that! Just quit acting stupid. not a lasting love anyway. from God. you're a very handsome guy. only this time. and I have not been 'brainwashed'. I know it wasn't right. that's not what this is about. I love you. Just give me another chance. and ended up going out with her. huh. Denise. and everything gets back to normal. Denise!" Getting out of the car. "I don't want that back. and you just can't drop me like that!" Denise could see that Jon was on the verge of losing control. I just don't have the same feelings for you now. I realize I never really loved you. I guess I just wanted to get back at you! But. Denise. she refused to take the ring back.

followed by Papa. to find out all she could about the God she was now serving. in a way that would cause her parents to believe. Now she felt better. Old things had passed away. It didn't take long to get her story told. were just popping into her head. she felt it in her heart. but now they really had meaning. then. Denise made up her mind to try to be a good 'follower of Christ'. looking out the window at God's masterpiece. inserted it into the envelope. knowing they would be disappointed. "Bye". and with a smile. and it was much easier than it would have been face to face. green trees. said simply. even years back. all things had become new! Denise decided since she had the whole afternoon with nothing special to do. And the peace she felt reminded her of Psalm 23.She got out of the car. It was funny how the things she had been taught in Church and Sunday School. she felt a new sense of relief. and maybe they would be disappointed in her. and that she had been studying the Bible for herself. She was aware that Jon's car didn't move for several minutes. and found that she did believe it literally. Now she could get on with her new life. it was a good time to write that letter to Mom and Dad. white clouds. She knew this was the right thing to do! Somehow. And Denise had a real yearning now to know more. Nana and Papa looked at each other then at her. She hadn't paid much attention to them. Breathing a silent prayer in his behalf. She explained that she and Jon had gone separate ways. and completed the addressing. walked into the house. . Like it had been put away for her. After a few minutes. wondering how this letter would be received. she heard Jon peel out of the driveway. and speed carelessly down the dirt road. and hoped they would understand. the blue sky. but her mind was made up. but said nothing. if possible." Contentedly. It was like everything she had ever been taught about spiritual things was just waiting for this day. for a while. and wondered just what life held for her now. Denise folded the letter. the last part that says "my cup runneth over. She guessed they probably would be afraid for her. and now was brought out. and not oppose her in her decision to make Jesus Lord of her life. the small birds occassionally flying from tree to tree. the blue water in the distant tank. she lay on her bed. that she would become a 'fanatic' or something.

.. The days had gone by so fast. "You're right. and the patients had responded to her cheerful offers to help with overwhelming gratitude. hesitating. she gave Denise a big. Maria commented to Denise. Denise found that. which came directly from her heart. and married. But. but Denise was different. wondering what Maria's response would be. They were very special people! STRUGGLES. she understood they sensed a difference in her. Familiar patients and new patients alike praised Denise for even the smallest things done. "Something good must have happened to you this weekend!" And Denise. She couldn't let them go on wondering. Maria! This weekend I accepted Jesus as my Lord! And it's the best thing that ever happened to me!" "That's wonderful. She knew it was the joy of the Lord! The routine was the same.sisterly hug! They sat together at lunch and got really acquainted.. as she entered the cafeteria behind her. Denise!" And right there in the cafeteria line. and decided it wouldn't matter. explain to Nana and Papa about Jon. and everything had just fell into place. the nurses. Chapter 21 Work this week had been a breeze! It was already Wednesday. decided to share the good news. and she could see that they weren't going to ask questions.Denise decided that she had one more thing she would have to do. even though Maria was older. they had a lot in common. Denise's enthusiasm for life showed in her step and the constant smile on her face. if she knew. and volunteers were the same. and she became a little embarassed at such open adoration.

Maria?" Denise questioned. "Where have you been lately?" "Oh. there was nothing to keep her from being involved. But. In fact. one who would be supportive of her new choices. She admitted she had not been involved with the church activities."Are you going to church anywhere. quick. it was time to get back to work! Denise knew she had found a close friend." Nancy called out when she saw her coming around the corner. she started to the elevator on her way to the next patient. Nancy was just getting on the elevator as Denise approached it. before the elevator stops. "I've been visiting churches here since we moved. and there are a lot of things they want me to attend to. lately! Jon and I aren't seeing each other anymore. and told about the pastor. Jon. and laughing. she was looking forward to it! Maria promised to talk with her husband about it. Nancy. lately. "Hi. here's where I get off! Give me . you know what I mean? Everyone has been really nice. there has been a lot going on. there have been a lot of patient admissions up there! And you know how it is with a new patient! Most of them feel really bad. or they're bedfast. "Yeah! Well. and that it was a very active church. and it's best that way! And Mom and Dad will be back probably Saturday or Sunday. But now. Rejoicing. Denise. since they put you on the fifth floor! How do you like it up there! There must be a lot to do. knowing now that Maria was a fellow believer in Christ." Nancy said. I'm praying the Lord will show me where he wants me. talking fast at the end. I haven't seen you in such a long time! I've been really busy. since they keep you up there all the time!" "Well. and said maybe they could visit there Sunday. how is he? Tell me. but I'm not sure where to get really involved." "It would be great if He put you in our church! I'd love having you there!" Denise explained where the church was located. I bet! Oops. and I suppose you have too. enough of that.Before they knew it. and we'll get to hear all about Europe for a month. how are things with you? Your folks still gone on vacation? I can't believe you didn't go! And.

Denise! You were so in love with him. but Joanie's room was bare. Really. OK?" "Wait a minute". and most practical decision I've ever made! I've never been this happy before!" Denise's eyes showed her determination to pursue this new life. I hope everything works out for you. She wanted to get her something. to live like a true Christian!" "Oh. she probably would have reacted in the same way. Things have changed a lot since we talked last! I just found out that we didn't have much in common. "Gosh. cooly as the elevator door had started to close. Nancy shook her head. she did! Denise was sure. Denise! What's happened to you? You were always so practical! Don't you know you won't be able to have any fun anymore? I can't believe I'm hearing this from you!" Nancy's voice went from disbelief to pity. The gift shop! So many of the patient's rooms were filled with flowers. you and Jon aren't seeing each other? Did he break up with you? What happened?" Denise smiled. she'd find the way. no. and would have to hear the details! "No. I intend. But. if she'd had family close by. Nancy. "I just thought I was in love. Tell me what happened. Nancy pushed it open. I've made Jesus Lord of my life now. with the help of the Lord. See ya!" Nancy said.. it's not! It's the best." Nancy's eyes held a look of disbelief. too! Completing her rounds for the day. Of course. Nancy said. Nancy. and stepped inside. Denise smiled to herself. not elaborate. she would have to pray for Nancy. just two weeks earlier.a call sometime. I broke it off with him!" "You did what? I can't believe you. Denise decided to make one last stop before visiting Joanie. just a little something. that maybe someday. You see. Denise. I've gotta get back to work. "What did you mean. by now. She looked around in the little shop until she found it! Just a little . and walked off the elevator with her. plants and cards. knowing Nancy just loved a bit of juicy gossip.. Her best friend! But she knew if the tables had been turned. "It's not like you think. Well. as she grabbed Denise's shoulder. that she was Joanie's daughter.

ceramic coffee mug, filled with pretty multi- colored silk flowers. The mug was yellow, with pink designs and said 'FRIENDS*. It was perfect, and relatively inexpensive, Denise decided, as she paid the clerk. She entered Joanie's room with the gift behind her back. Joanie said brightly, as she saw her, "There's the girl with the sparkle in her eyes!" "Why do you say that?" Denise asked, laughing. "I've been hearing such things a lot lately!" "Well, there's something definitely different about you, the last few days. Say, what are you hiding there?" Denise handed Joanie the gift, and watched as Joanie's eyes misted, and she thanked her. Joanie placed the cup of flowers in the center of her bedside table, and commented, "That sure brightens things up in here! I love those colors. I hope you didn't spend much!" "I'm glad you like it, Joanie. I see you're out of that traction set-up! Are you enjoying your new freedom?" "You bet! And the physical therapist came in today! He's gonna start teaching me to walk with crutches tomorrow. The doctor said I'll probably be ready to go home Friday or Saturday!" "Hey, that's great!" Denise replied. "But, how? You can't go home alone! Who's gonna take care of you?" She asked anxiously. "That's all been taken care of!" Joanie informed her, excitedly. "You remember I told you about my older brother's family who live in Colorado? Well, he had a daughter, Pam, who's been going to college, but she's free for the summer, and she's coming down to help me get back on my feet. She'll probably be here sometime tomorrow. I hope you can meet her. She's really sweet." "Oh, I'm glad. I would have been worried about you, you know, if you didn't have someone to help you! I hope I do get to meet her," Denise said sincerely. "Now, back to those sparkling eyes! What's going on with you, Denise? You seem very happy! Are you in love?" Joanie asked, teasingly.

"No! In fact, I just broke up with my boyfriend. But you're right! I am happier than I've ever been." "Then he must not have been too good for you. It sounds like you're better off without him. Had you been seeing him long?" "Oh, about six months, I guess. He's a pretty nice guy, and he's real good looking. It won't be hard for him to find someone else. I've just changed, I'm not the same person I used to be." Pausing for just a minute, she explained, "I've accepted Jesus into my life, and that's the difference that everybody is seeing, I'm sure!" Denise explained, hoping Joanie would understand. "I'm very happy for you, Denise. I remember when I first accepted the Lord. It was wonderful! It was right after I held my little baby in my arms that one time. Then I knew that there had to be a God to have created something so beautiful, and so precious from something so terrifying and awful. I had been taught about the Lord all my life, but it had never really made any sense to me until then. And I've never been the same since. It's a wonderful thing, to serve the Lord," Joanie added. Denise sensed a new bond with this new, pretty friend, who was probably her biological mother. Whether or not the truth ever came out, Denise felt she would always love her. "You seem so mature for your age. How old are you, Denise?" Joanie quizzed curiously. "Sixteen! And I'll be a Junior at school in the fall," Denise answered proudly, feeling just a little uncomfortable. She wondered if Joanie had any suspicions about Denise being her daughter. Of course not! She didn't know enough about her to be suspicious, Denise quickly decided. But, then Joanie asked, "When is your birthday, Denise? I'd like to remember it, since we've become pretty good friends", she said, almost apologetically. Hesitating longer than appropriate, trying to decide how to answer without sounding gongs in Joanie's head, Denise said simply, "July 10th." Watching Joanie's eyes, Denise was amazed by the lack of surprise.

There was a moment of silence, then Joanie said, "Well, that's quite a coincidence, isn't it! You know, I can hardly wait for you to meet Pam." She continued, "you two have a lot in common. "How's that?" Denise questioned, wondering what she could possibly have in common with this stranger, Joanie's niece. "Oh, you'll find out!" Joanie stated with an odd little laugh. How strange, Denise thought as she looked at her watch, realizing she had visited much longer than she had intended. She'd have to hurry to get changed, eat supper and get to the youth service that was held immediately before the Bible study at church. Apologizing for her abruptness, she said good-bye and hurried home, wondering all the way what she and "Pam" could possibly have in common!

CONFIRMATION
Chapter 22

The youth service had been fun! Several of the kids Denise knew from high school were there, mostly girls, but a few boys. Of course, Roger was in charge. He wasn't actually called a Youth Director, but in effect, he was one, since he taught young people's Sunday School class and was also the leader of the youth services. He was really perfect for it since he was young too, Denise thought, and knew how to have fun with the rest of them. But, he also knew how to command respect and obedience, which was essential to a good leader of any kind, she decided. They had opened the meeting with prayer, then sang several contemporary worship songs, had a brief teaching, very informally, with everyone sitting in a circle, and had open discussion on 'peer pressure vs Godly conscience'. The refreshments, provided by alternating parents in the church, were then served. There was a short time left for a game, Roger said, afterwards, in which the majority voted for a 'sword drill'. Roger explained to Denise

she supposed since she was new in the group. surprised that she found Roger walking along beside her. did she ever have a lot to learn. that she would study hard to become familiar with His Word. By the time they arrived back at the farm. if she was going to get any studying done before going to the hospital. her conscience was sharpened. was interesting. Denise realized. The 'in-depth' Bible study. A loud. much less which one was where! She made a promise to herself. Man. and to God. so they all went right to bed. The one who found the most scriptures first. she decided. during the time allowed. Oh. she told herself. Well. and start the Bible study program tomorrow.that it was a game where scripture verses were called out and everyone tried to be first in finding the actual verses. But. as proof. One more day won't make that much difference. Thankful for that. But she felt so tired! She could sleep another hour. so different from Jon! She heard Roger comment that it sounded like fun. that's tomorrow night. Denise overheard Papa inviting Roger to go to Todd's ballgame with them. continuous 'beep-beep-beep* aroused Denise. and where to find it! But no one dared mention that Denise had not succeeded even once. Denise was thankful for a clear conscience and the peace and joy of the Lord as she drifted off to sleep. Of course. and such a sincere guy. and she made herself get out of . refusing to get bogged down in the details of the things she didn't yet understand. it was already bedtime. was the winner. Denise caught Papa's eye and gave him an approving smile. as she realized it was time to get up. He was fun to be with. she went with the others to the Bible study in the main auditorium. Roger was keeping score! Denise was so embarrassed! She hardly knew the books of the Bible. but left a lot of questions in Denise's mind. She was even more suprised when he sat down beside her as she found Nana and Papa's pew. And Denise was feeling sleepy and tired. In the process of exchanging greetings and good-byes after church. she probably would be learning the rest of her life. and had to read it aloud. led by the Pastor. hoping Roger would go. and that he would enjoy going. she reasoned to herself.

get into the shower in order to get awakened thoroughly. and was glad. The girl stared at Denise. When Denise finally got to the nurse's station. She read. Denise noticed the excitement increase. She hadn't heard anyone else up yet. She wasn't sure she understood it all. but she was trying. curly. more sophisticated. evidently thinking the same thing. strawberry blonde hair. which was marked for her. She had made a promise to herself and to God. so she turned to Ephesians 6:13. anyway. "Denise. she started her confession as Roger had instructed her. Looking at the clock. beginning with the Gospel of St. you wouldn't believe who is in Joanie Weston's room. thanking him for the priviledge of being His child. she thought. as Papa had suggested some time back. and asking to be taught his will. perhaps a little older. Then the . she put other things aside and began to dress for the day. John. Having done this. except. "What's the deal?" she asked curiously. when she opened the door to Joanie's room. with short. She remembered how Roger had talked about 'putting on the armor'. who. Maybe a new patient. they were exaggerating! But. She wondered what was going on. Surely. after all! Confused and curious. and she was going to keep it! Awake and alert. Denise still didn't understand all that Roger had told her about putting on the armor of God. she began to just talk to her new heavenly Father. paraphrasing the sentences to make it personal. she noticed all the nurse's busily talking in a group. she sat at the small desk in her room. Denise had to investigate. although it was seldom that one was admitted who could cause this much excitement! When they saw Denise standing at the window. as she still felt a little awkward about reading and praying. The day well begun for Denise. she looked at Pam. now. she heard Nana and Papa stirring in their bedroom. looked just like Denise's mirror image. and long dark lashes. She looks just like you! I thought you'd gotten your hair cut when I saw her! I couldn't believe my eyes when I found out it wasn't you. Chapter 1. sky blue oval eyes.bed. but she did realize it was to prepare her for spiritual battles. Reading through it once.

then hurried off to get ready for Todd's ballgame. very happy. Before leaving the hospital that day. I've been pretty sure ever since that first visit. It was a happy time. Joanie returned the embrace lovingly. Almost dazed. "Pam. speechless. Denise. the Lord is so good! You know that we've been praying for your mom and dad for years. my niece. Then. Denise. I'm not at all disappointed. I've told you about Pam. as Pam watched. Denise leaned forward. then turning back to Joanie. As you can see. "Oh. I got a phone call from Belgium today! You mother called to talk to me!" "Is Dad OK? What happened? Why did she call?" Denise questioned anxiously. "I've got some pictures. but brief. promising to visit more tomorrow. and made promises to exchange photographs. so they would have to leave early. You both look very much like my mother. Denise said. She passed away several years ago. I'm glad you two could meet. It was about fifty miles away. exchanging addresses. It's a real relief to me. Tearful. as Denise had to get back to work. phone numbers. Promising to return as soon as she could. as Denise walked through the kitchen door on arrival. honey. Denise. Pam's grandmother. to know that I was loved. looking up again. she made her rounds with the same smile and attentiveness that her patients loved. too. that the Lord would open their spiritual . and hugged Joanie tightly. this is Denise. Denise. Honey. She knew the feelings Mom had toward Nana. if you'd like to see them. "No. looking down for a moment. Joanie and Pam had a good visit." Joanie hesitated. I suspect that she is your grandmother. so it had to be something really important! "Oh. I hope you're not disappointed if it proves out that you're my daughter!" Glancing at Pam. especially by someone as sweet and nice as you!" And in a moment of impulse. Joanie.two stared at Joanie in disbelief. continued. Denise hugged them both. you're not gonna believe what the Lord has done!" Nana exclaimed. she left the room. and still amazed at the likeness of her cousin. you two look an awfully lot alike. with the birthdates being the same.

I thought you lived in town all this time. She couldn't believe her grandmother was talking like that about her mother! But. Denise caught a pleased glance between Nana and Papa as Roger climbed into the backseat. hers. Anyway. Papa drove by a farm not far from his own to pick up Roger. I'm just thrilled. Roger. I don't know what to say. hello. a girl I knew a long. I can't wait for my little girl to come back!" Denise grinned shyly. "No. she asked if I would go ahead. it had to be an answer to Nana and Papa's faithful prayers! A little while later. volunteering to ride in back with Denise. yeah. but luxurious car.eyes. How are you. Nana offered to let him sit in front. and apparently. Well. Are you sure that's what she meant? You know. "I'm just fine. I didn't know you had bought this farm. Honey. laughing. How are you. I'm suprised you didn't know it. It didn't take Roger long to come out." Denise responded. I didn't know Roger lived out here! I just assumed he lived in town!" Denise said suprised. Denise. long time ago! Praise the Lord. and said that she was so sorry. riding in Nana's older. and reveal His love to them. and that she had been so wrong about everything! It was a different girl that I talked to today. in fact. Moms and Dads! Yes. and help you get your school shopping done. Dorrie said something about getting 'Peter and Paul' for tour companions this last few days. Dorrie called just to ask me and Papa to forgive her. they ministered to them. looking at her in the rear view mirror. as the car returned to the dirt road." Papa responded playfully. "You know. but Roger insisted it would be a pleasure to share the seat with Denise. who would ever have thought that a trip to Europe for her parents could bring so many changes to their lives. This couple that they got hooked up with asked them to tour the Holy Land with them. our prayers have been answered!" "Nana. "Papa. Are they still gonna be home this weekend?" Denise asked. and had everybody laughing. she was pretty set in her theories. "Well. That's really a nice place!" . tonight?" Roger asked playfully. He's been living out here ever since the Alexander's moved off to Houston. "Oh. so they're gonna be a few days late. But.

But. . then. a little Angus bull. interrupting the conversation. "Hey. And it would be her first weekend without Jon to think of. Hopefully. and plan for. and met her 'real' cousin. Papa! Your calves are half grown and they're not cute like newborns!" Denise defended herself. "That's not fair. it would be strange seeing him in town on weekends. She hadn't changed her mind about Jon. Roger. you. Denise hadn't shared this story with anyone? Perhaps. Roger?" "Yeah. aren't they. can I see the calf sometime?" Denise asked. But it is a nice place."Bought? Did you say I bought it? I wish! Actually. then things were really gonna be strange! But. she concluded. and they had changed their minds about the Lord. but still. "Got any new calves yet? They're about due." Roger answered. I can buy it someday. Nana was laughing continuously at this friendly bantering. but not coming to see her. she thought. the conversation eventually lulled.. And what was it going to be like when Mom and Dad did come home? If Nana was right. they wouldn't be disappointed about her decision to follow Christ. Of course. She could hardly believe so much had happened since they left for Europe-it had only been five weeks! She had found out about her 'real' mother. back there! I've got some calves and you haven't even stepped out the door to see them!" Papa reminded Denise. This would be a strange weekend. and Denise's mind began to wander. whom she immediately liked very much. and loved her.. I lucked out and got a chance to lease it. and believed they would probably be great friends. Perhaps. It would be really strange. "That's neat. after all. if she prayed about it. Mom and Dad wouldn't be home this weekend." Papa asked. Got four more due sometime this month. Jon would be coming home on weekends. I got a new one this morning. enthusiastically. and not being with him. Life would never again be 'normal'. good.

The tension was mounting! And he struck out! Yelling. changing the subject. I got Joanie's address and phone number. especially. The team was playing good. Jon's little sister much lately." Nana continued. "I still haven't gone to meet and visit with her. Todd". anyway. She's out of traction and the physical therapist is teaching her to use crutches. Hopefully they would still like her. his family responded as if he had done great. She wondered if breaking up with Jon would affect his parents' feelings toward her." Nana explained. Denise leaned forward in her seat to answer Nana. It sounds like everything has worked out well for her. wondering what Nana would think if she knew the rest of the story. with two runs already in when Todd's turn came to bat. he got a good hit at the second ball thrown. Her niece from Colorado came down to stay with her for a while after she goes home. Nana and Denise joined the crowd in cheering. "Better luck next time around!" Denise heard others calling to her little brother. Look! There's the ball park! It sure is crowded. and Roger. "it's OK. Papa. I met her today.Denise hadn't seen Amanda. when Jon was gone. "That's good. Nana asked Denise how things were with Joanie today. And he was hustling! Roger and Papa left for the concession stand during the second inning. though. Todd was playing first base. The visiting team soon had their turn outfield. during the week. I have continued to pray for her. Then it was Todd's turn to bat again. too. Maybe. They just had time to get seated on the bleachers when the game started. but by the time he got to first base. and it was soon plain to see he knew his job. returning with a lot of goodies to munch on. We've agreed to stay in touch. and she's really nice. since they were good friends with Mom and Dad. again. they had it! He was out. but she did miss her. Todd's team was up to bat first." Denise said. Interrupting her thoughts. but . "She's probably going home tomorrow. she could still spend some time with her. This time.

The score so far was 10-3. anymore. I know now that my Heavenly Father knows what I need. Sunday. pounding him on the back. They sought out Todd immediately. and he made me feel secure. it doesn't compare at all to the love and security that I've found in the Lord! I've never been happier. Todd got three players out on first base. He has sure answered our prayers! I'm very proud of you". right after church. And she was one of them. The next inning went even better for the team. She was so proud of her little brother. but I found out that the love I had for Jon was a selfish kind of love. Denise! Your grandparents and I have been praying for you a long time. Denise could see him watching her closely. though I wish it could have been different. you know. I know that Jon and I just couldn't have made it over the long haul! But. Denise? You seemed to really care for him. and visiting briefly with Grandma and Grandpa Whitaker. they began the trip home. our God doesn't just work with individuals. "Needed any rescuing lately?" He smiled. when the opposing team scored four runs! The hour and half game ended with a score of 10-7. Todd's team's favor! Everyone in the stands were going crazy. "And isn't it wonderful that your parents have come to the Lord! That's quite a miracle. I broke up with Jon. Roger! And. from what I understand. but in the dim light of the car. This time. jokingly. now. then.the runner on third base got home. But. and I believe that He has someone better for me. getting to second base before his ball was secured. finding. But. Todd hit a good ball. "No. I enjoyed his attention. The engine purred along in the darkness. And you won't have to worry about that. After congratulating the players. Roger said. The game continued and the tension mounted during the fifth inning. up to bat again. as Roger leaned toward Denise. so it was not a total loss. telling him he played a good game. ending that round. " "Really? How do you feel about that. Denise noted happily." "I thought I did. Roger. he works in families!" . in the Todd's team's favor. Roger." he asked quietly. "I'm so glad. the sincerity showing in his eyes. It was a real shame that Mom and Dad couldn't have been here for the game. "How are things with your boyfriend.

A love that would last forever! "Roger." Denise said softly."Yeah. I've found the love I was looking for. He hadn't been there every time she needed help. What a love! A love that would never hurt her. or leave her. and listened to Roger teaching Sunday School lessons. leaving her in the middle of nowhere.newlifeministries-sonora-tx. She remembered the time her patient had died. And the time he rescued her after Jon had pushed her out of the car. didn't even believe in Him. Because of you. Her God. as she gently layed her hand on his. but God had. The Lord had used him to help her. her Lord! He had loved her even when she wasn't walking with him. "thank you. But.org/ . And the times he had spent praying with her. it really is fantastic. I've finally found what really counts! A love from above!" THE END New Life Ministries * nlm@sonoratx. wasn't trusting Him. for all of us!" Denise remembered all the times she had sat. I guess there's gonna be a lot of changes around our house. but He had been there all the time. I was really worried about how they would accept 'the new me'. and Roger comforted her.net http:www. and the recent Bible studies. to try to reach her many times.

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